Nobody knows for sure what “Peak Aristata’s” real name is, or if indeed it has a name at all. It is shown only as a spot height of 1999 metres. Ages ago, on the occasion of the Club’s 100th anniversary, Dave Jones arranged to take a party up the peak and to signal with mirrors to another party over the way on Seweweekspoort Peak. In the event, the weather had other ideas and the Jones party blundered about in the fog, building a cairn on and naming some or other hump “Peak Aristata” , which, for want of a better name, has stuck.

Incidentally, the party across the way, which may or may not have had Bill T in charge of navigation, had better luck and broke through the cloud to enjoy their summit above the clouds and surrounding peaks, alone in space. Rumour has it that the navigational wheels came off soon afterwards. But I digress.

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Pre-dawn start with Murray, Cheryl, the Car-guard and Robyn

Last year we climbed Aristata by a new route, so I suppose we can’t call it a new route that we did it by on 2 July this year. Anyway, it is a great route, made all the more exciting by the previous night’s snow. We started out right from the Aristata cottages and went directly up the ridge behind the swimming hole. We should perhaps have picked the right-hand ridge this time, as one has to cross over to it later anyway. But that would have deprived us of a pleasant traverse under some cliffs.

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Early views of Seweweekspoort Peak

The hardy souls who turned out for the adventure were Greg and Janet Moore, Robyn and Murray Reid and Cheryl and me. Fortunately for the rest of us, Janet decided not to climb but to fetch us from the end, thus obviating a 10 kilometre trudge back home along the road, which would have eaten badly into beer-drinking time.

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Robyn taking layer-dressing to new heights

We made good time up to the summit through light snow. Most of the climb was in the shade and freezing cold, but about halfway up the sun reached us and it grew pleasantly warm. The sun didn’t do much to the snow and we still had to do all the rock-scrambling on ice-encrusted rocks. The view from the summit is awesome. Despite being across the Poort, Seweweekspoort Peak still dominates the whole scene. One can also see Gamkapoort Dam and the Gamka River’s gorge through the Swartberg.

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The route goes up the gully in the middle

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Mr Visual Pollution starts the traverse

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The traverse over to the skyline where the route continues

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The snowy gully leading to the summit ridge

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Murray, Robyn, GregM and Cheryl at the summit cairn with Seweweekspoort Peak in the distance.

To descend via the ascent route, while perhaps a possibility last year, was out of the question this time, so we walked down via the jeep track and all the way out to the Bosluiskloof road. Right on the schedule and almost at the right gate was Janet with the Moore bakkie. GregM’s GPS had this to say about the route. Total distance 16km, 1320m climbed, 1250m descended. We were out for 8 hours of which 4,5 hours were actual walking, the other 3,5 hours presumably having tea. The average speed was 3,4 km/hour and the max was 6km/hour.

We stayed at the Aristata resort which is very comfortable, but rustic. You have to turn your bed down yourself and bring your own chocolate to put on the pillow. But we did have a log fire in the dining room and a nice braai on the Saturday night after a great climb.

Greg Devine (Meet Leader)

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