Our day and a half of leisure went by all too quickly and we were picked up by Ross in the early afternoon on Boxing Day. We headed back to the Du Toitskloof Mountains and a different MCSA hut; this one reachable by car. It would be our home for most of the second week of the trip.
Up pre-dawn the following morning for a 15 minute drive to our next objective. We parked on the side of a highway and started hiking up through a burnt out wasteland. Fynbos fires are a natural and periodic occurrence and this latest one passed through the area a day or two prior leaving some smoldering patches. The hike got progressively steeper and we finally arrived at the base of our climb some 3 hours after leaving the car. The goal for the day was a handsome looking ridge on the right side of Yellowwood Amphitheater (site of new and intensive route development; almost all strictly trad no less). The route, Smalblaar Ridge, was not long and we combined it into 3 or 4 long pitches. We were enjoying ourselves (outstanding views) and stopped for a leisurely lunch on the summit. I guess things were a bit too leisurely since by the time we made our way down the partially burnt out descent gully, Ross was surprised by how long we were gone up top. Things were warming up and conditions were positively stifling when we hit the freshly burnt area for the final 45 minutes to the car (upper 20s C). Thankfully, there was a beer-serving oasis at a roadside bar some 5km down the highway. This would be our routine for the next two days: climb, beer in the bar, wine over dinner in the hut and a nip of scotch for sweet dreams.