The Bell Traverse – A 3 day hike – December 2010
|The Bell Traverse|
Jude and Mark, a young couple from Calgary, Canada, contacted us last November for a hike in the High Berg. They had a broad hiking experienced in the Rocky Mountains and the Andes so they were keen for something ambitious. I suggested The Bell Traverse. This is one of the most popular hikes in the Drakensberg and for many the most beautiful of all. However, an above averaged physical condition and a head for heights are essential.
The weather in summer is very unpredictable, with frequent thunderstorms and misty conditions. In return, the Drakensberg thrives with life; the grass is green and full of colourful mountain flowers.
If you get a lift to Mike’s Pass it’s possible to get to the top of the escarpment on the first day via Organ Pipes Pass, an “easy” Berg pass. The first night we stayed at Roland’s Cave, a well known shelter among the most experienced Drakensberg hikers. The cave is on a rock band and is only accessible by a very narrow ledge, not everyone’s cup of tea. Jude and Mark dealt with the exposure without a problem, so I knew they would be all right with what was to come ahead.
The second night we hiked north along the undulating escarpment and stayed at Twins Cave, a big overhang at the head of the Bell Traverse.
We had perfect weather conditions for the Bell Traverse, with the highest peaks standing above a sea of clouds like little islands. We couldn’t stop taking pictures.
|First day – Up Organ Pipes Pass in a whiteout.|
|Morning of day 2 – Cleft Peak from Roland’s Cave|
|Cosy Roland’s Cave – Jude and Mark enjoying their down sleeping bags|
|Start of day 2 – At last a bright blue sky|
|3200m above sea level and the clouds!|
|Cleft Peak 3280m. Lesotho on the left under the blue sky. Natal on the right under the clouds.|
|Twins Cave – Happy Jude got into her down sleeping bag as soon as she could.|
|Twins Cave Lounge|
|Day 3 – The weather looks promising. Beautiful summer green.|
|Carboloading before the start of the final day.|
|Eucomis humilis – Dwarf Pineaple Flower|
|Cathedral Peak range – Outer Horn, The Bell and Cathedral Peak.|
|A good place for reflexion|
|The mountain guide at home|
|The daunting Buggers Gully – The last challenge of the Bell Traverse|
|Jude can’t wait!|
|Final Metres up Buggers Gully|
|Mark is ready to leave the Drakensberg!|
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