ATTENDING:

Base Camp: Dave & Fay Jones (co-ordinators) Tim & Brig Jones, Meghan, Rebecca & Adam (E.P. Section) Don & Marie Bands

Smutsberg: Werner Illenberger (Leader), Zeta Michau, Derek Odendaal, Brian Du Preez & Bill Turner

11 Adults & 3 Children

(Photos by Tim Jones)

BASE CAMP:

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Kouga Wildernis Camp Fire

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Kouga Wildernis family camping

Kouga Wildernis again demonstrated what a wonderful base it can be for a variety of activities.  The weather was good, apart from rain on Monday night which cleared sufficiently for tents to be packed dry and for the Smutsberg party to return mainly dry.  Crisp cold nights but lovely days.  The convenient Lapa was not needed apart for the useful facility of cooking and the storing supplies in the large fridges, but it was good to know it was there.  Hot water showers were enjoyed as well as comfortable grass camping and power when needed.  Although deep in the Kouga, the base camp is only 200 km from George and the final 30 km on gravel has been greatly improved by recent road works.

The base camp party did all of the usual hiking, mountain biking, and climbing on offer and were allowed to pick lovely juicy oranges.  Four days was not long enough to explore every hiking trail, jeep track or climbing route so there remains much still to explore.  The camp site also proved a suitable base for the out-party of five to hike to Pelargonium Cave at the base of Smutsberg and for three of them  to summit the peak and to claim the highest peak in the rugged Kouga Range as one of our S. Cape 10th Anniversary summits. (See below)

One of the best hiking trails from the base camp, well explored by Dave and Don and also by Tim’s young party, is the one to Koos se Bos with its deep kloof, swimming holes and mature yellow woods.  Also worth visiting as Tim’s young climbers found, are the easy to reach bolted routes set up by the E.P. Section close to the Bush Camp.

Keys were collected in Joubertina for the MCSA servitude via Hoeree but were not used by the summit party.  However, some of the base camp party did make use of them to drive the road in as far as the Kouga crossing to confirm it is rough but still open.  However, with the Kouga crossing causeway partly washed away, it is now best treated as a 4×4 route inward from that point.

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Hiking Trails from Kouga Wildernis Camp Site are worth exploring

Nearby Kouga Kop, the second highest Kouga peak, is clearly visible from the road into Kouga Wildernis and could also be a worthy summit to assault from this useful base camp.

SUMMIT ATTEMPT: (As accounted by party members)

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Summit Party departs: Werner, Zeta, Derek & Brian

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Bill took off early, knowing he was a bit slow

After an early start on Sunday morning the summit party went more or less directly towards Pelargonium cave, a well know base for Smutsberg often used in the past.  As far as possible they kept to ridges to avoid valley bottom bush which resulted in a bit of a problem as the day ended in getting sufficient water for the night.  All were in the cave by 5 p.m.

After a comfortable night in the cave a final summit party led by Werner, accompanied by Zeta and Brian, had a clear day, with cloud both above and sometimes below them, for the summit.  They then returned again to Pelargonium cave for the night.  Bill, having summited Smutsberg before, returned to base and was accompanied by Derek who was concerned about a failing boot.  Both were back at Kouga Wildernis by 4 p.m.

Derek left for home shortly after breakfast on Tuesday while Bill stayed at base camp to see the summit party in.  They had had a reasonably comfortable second night in a dry cave, in spite of heavy rain, and were equally fortunate to have a dry window during the morning to get back to base before the weather closed in again.

A truly stout effort by the South Cape, not only claiming Smutsberg as a 10th anniversary summit,  but proving that the Kouga Wildernis (correct official spelling) base-camp approach is feasible and allows one to use the standard route from the south without the need of a 4×4.

Dave Jones

Meet leader

 

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