Home Trail tales 2004 Guiness Book
Guiness Book of Records ...
Bells traverse challenge
Starting at Cathedral Peak Hotel up Orange Peel Gap and coming down the Organ Pipes.
Angelo de Nicola and Monica Britz had completed this specific route twice, the first time was a year ago when we did it over three days and second time was last year November when we hiked it with Neil Ransome and we hiked it in two days. Driving home, we contemplated whether we could do this hike in one day. We realised that it would be a challenge and a risk because each of us would only take a daypack with no tent or sleeping bag and only extra energy bars to keep us going. We did, however, take a warm jacket, pants and a space blanket, knowing that we could survive there for one night if we did not make it back in one day.
We chose the Easter weekend hoping we would get a few more people to do the challenge with us, but there were no takers. We woke up at 04h30 Saturday morning and by 05h15 we had crossed the river by the hotel. Luck was on our side, because we had beautiful weather. The first hour we hiked with torches as the sun only came up at about 06h30. Two hours later, after a steady uphill slog, we reached the top of Orange Peel Gap, stopped for quick drink and then proceeded to climb to the top of Cathedral Peak Gully. We reached this just after eight and we knew the worst climbing was over. From there we went over the gully and back down the other side, which is quite rocky and slippery, till we reached the top contour path that leads you past the Inner and Outer Horn to Twins Cave. We were very happy to reach Twins Cave by 10h30, but at this stage had only hiked about 16kms and had another 22kms to go.
It was a long, never ending walk from Twins Cave to the top of Cleft Peak. We hiked passed Xeni Pass, Cockade Pass and Tseketseke Pass and 12kms later at about 15h00 we reached the top of Cleft peak. I would like to believe that the Drakensberg is flat at the top, but believe me, there are a lot of ups and downs till you reach Cleft Peak. It is one of the highest peaks in the Drakensberg (3277m) and the view from there is magnificent. We stopped here for “lunch”, had our energy bars and peanuts and rested our weary legs for half an hour. By this stage I was tired and could have easily just stayed there, but with Angelo, there is no time for rest.
The good news is, once you are at the top of Cleft Peak, it is downhill all the way, (10kms back to the Hotel) although you cannot go very fast as the first section down Organ Pipes Pass is very tricky and you have to be very careful not to slip as it is very steep. Once this section was complete, it felt like the long road home, as we could see the hotel, but it seemed like we would never reach it, the path just carries on and on, but finally at exactly 18h00 we were back. I was exhausted but we had made it.
If all goes well, next Easter (2005), we would like to try the hike again, in an endeavour to improve our time and I hope we shall have a few more people to join us. Any takers?