The write-up for this meet must have sounded too hectic, because only four intrepid members reported for duty. They were Bill Uren, Dave Collett, Cheryl and Greg Devine (Leader & Chief Scout)

For a while I had been entertaining the idea of doing Peak Aristata from Seweweekspoort itself, instead of via the cop-out jeep track at Besemfontein, which, while very nice, is hardly mountaineering. For some ideas, I consulted Google-Earth, my bible and guru in such matters. I saw that there was a spur starting in the Aristata Resort itself, rising all the way up. But would it go? There was only one way to find out.

We booked out the house at Aristata for two nights and did a little rock-climbing on the afternoon of arrival. The raiding party assembled at dawn the next morning and we set off, reinforced by the farm dog. There are actually two ridges starting at the camp. They appear to join higher up, but the left-hand one somehow looked a bit easier so we chose that one. Progress was brisk through the newly burned landscape and I venture to say that there might have been no progress at all if it had not burned.

Although there are numerous vertical rock-bands, very few of them are continuous so we were able to zig-zag around them. There was a lot of easy scrambling which the dog could manage but eventually we came to a section that was more vertical and we had to leave him behind to make his own way home. After about five hours we arrived on the summit, having really enjoyed a superb scrambling ascent.

The view from the summit is magnificent, with Seweweeks Peak towering a further 250 metres above us, across the deep gorge. Looking eastwards, one can see Gamka Dam and The Hell and all along the Swartberg in both directions.

There were two ways down again – the way we had come, and the jeep track. Bill was a bit miffed when we chose the jeep track, as it has no mountaineering merit and it is much, much longer, but obviously easier. Dave assured us that he would bring the mighty Collett charm to bear to organise a lift back along the road. He did in fact get a lift from the very first car, but that was only after we had walked most of the way back.

A bit of a mix-up then ensued. I gave Dave my car key so that he could bring my car back for the rest of us. He put my key down in the car to chat to the driver and when he got out, he took the driver’s huge bunch of keys. Luckily the fabled charm had elicited enough information about the driver, so that with some detective work and help from Aristata owner Hakon Nissen, we were able to track the car’s owner and swop keys the next day.

Anyway, it was a great outing and one that bears repeating, especially if we take the same up route back down. I also espied a ridge leading to Seweweeks Peak, which will have to be done soon.



Seweweeks Peak in the early morning light





Greg Devine 6 June 2015

All photos by David Collett