Go back to London.
Go back to South Africa.
After an overnight flight, we were met at Cape Town International by Ross and driven out to a guest house in Stellenbosch some 45 minutes away. This would be our starting point for the first climb of the trip the following morning. The rest of the day was spent catching up on sleep and enjoying our first dinner together – great food indeed and excellent wine to boot. Those first two days set the tone for the rest of the trip: overeat, overdrink but balance things out with a good dose of alpine-ish suffering (as we’d find out the next day).
Up pre-dawn the following morning for a quick hop to the trailhead and a 3 hour approach (at our highly jet lagged pace) to the Jonkershoek Twins with our intended route being something called the Mooloo Face. Though the old school pitch break-down puts it at some 20+ pitches in length, we were able to do some linking and complete the route in about 8 or 9 pitches, which included two off-route and very vegetated rope lengths near the top of the formation. Mostly easy face climbing on blocky sandstone and a bit overgrown in places (long trad routes are not popular) but on a proud-looking buttress and in a very nice setting. As would be the case with most climbs on this trip, Ross hiked up to the top of the formation and met us on the summit. This was much appreciated as the “intuitive descent” is also the wrong way to go. The proper descent involves some complex traversing out of “descent gullies” and down-climbing on tufts of grass – probably more exciting than the climb. We were back in Stellenbosch later that evening and enjoying our fine dinner number two.
We got to sleep in late the following morning as Ross had to make a run back to Cape Town to pick up the permit for our next objective. We got a chance to walk around Stellenbosch and enjoy a couple of pre-noon beers. Quite charming. Dutch influenced architecture enhanced by barbed wire and electrified fences…security providers are certainly not going hungry in South Africa.
Arriving in Cape Town. The sun is shining and the sky is blue – a nice change (Dec. 2017).
Driving towards the mountains and Stellenbosch (Dec. 2017).
Jet-lagged Shirley and Ross starting the approach early the following morning (Dec. 2017).
Hiking through a partially burnt out pine forest (non-native).
Still a long way to go (Dec. 2017).
Boulder hopping up a wash; bit reminiscent of some Red Rocks approaches (Dec. 2017).
In the approach wash or gully. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
Nearing the base of Mooloo Face (Dec. 2017).
Mooloo Face route climbs the buttress just left of center. Original pitch count puts the route at 20+ pitches but it easily goes at fewer than 10 with modern ropes and gear (Dec. 2017).
Stretching our 70 meter cords on the first handful of pitches of Mooloo Face. I’m in the highlighted circle and Shirley is belaying near bottom of photo. Click for high resolution version. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
Shirley arriving atop the lower buttress of Mooloo Face (Dec. 2017).
Leading a traverse along an overgrown ledge system just above the lowest buttress (our second pitch; Dec. 2017).
Views from the route (Dec. 2017).
Shirley starting the same bushwhack traverse (Dec. 2017).
The start of the middle buttress on Mooloo Face. This I think is our third pitch of the day (Dec. 2017).
Shirley arriving at a belay somewhere on the middle buttress of Mooloo Face (Dec. 2017).
Pitch 4-ish (Dec. 2017).
The middle buttress section of Mooloo Face terminates with this ridge. Here Shirley reaches the start of the scenic ridge (Dec. 2017).
Yours truly atop the same ridge (Dec. 2017).
Shirley higher on the ridge (Dec. 2017).
Our last two long pitches (or the upper buttress of Mooloo Face) were off-route and pretty vegetated (Dec. 2017).
Shirley topping out (Dec. 2017).
Shirley hiking the ridge above Mooloo Face towards the summit (where Ross is visible and snapping photos; Dec. 2017).
Hiking towards the summit. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
A wider view also courtesy of Ross (Dec. 2017).
On the summit. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
Yeah, not a bad setting (Dec. 2017).
Pretty flora on the summit (Dec. 2017).
Our first protea sighting (Dec. 2017).
Ross at start of the descent gully. Beta here is that you don’t drop all the way down the gully but break out skier’s left – not obvious (Dec. 2017).
At the start of the descent gully. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
Ross on a sketchy section of the descent (Dec. 2017).
Most of Mooloo Face in profile (with the obvious ridge connecting the middle and upper buttresses; Dec. 2017).
Steep and exposed traverses on the descent – more stressful than the climb (Dec. 2017).
Shirley and the entire Mooloo Face in profile. Note the three tiered buttress (Dec. 2017).
More descent shots; this one from Ross (Dec. 2017).
Finally back down in the wash (Dec. 2017).
Shirley on a “herping” safari (Dec. 2017).
Hiking back to the car in the early evening hours (Dec. 2017).
Hiking out. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
Shirley (ready for dinner) and the Jonkershoek Twins in the fading light (Dec. 2017).
Strolling Stellenbosch the following morning while we wait for Ross (Dec. 2017).
A church in Stellenbosch (Dec. 2017).
10am beers? Don’t mind if we do (Dec. 2017).
Ross and Shirley packing up at the guest house in Stellenbosch (Dec. 2017).
Go to Lucifer.
Go back to South Africa.