By Day 5 we had found our legs and become used to the altitude. The fantastic conditions of the day before had put a bit of a spring in my step, which was just as well given the substantial distance we had to cover!
With Cleft Peak to climb that day and tired legs from the day before we had a lazy morning. Jeffrey had to leave us at this point. Due to a communication problem he had initially only brought 4 days of food with him leaving the group to make up the shortfall. But with relatively little extra food to offer he now had to head down.
The route up Cleft Peak from the south is a slow steep climb and, still tired from the day before, we made slow progress.
Whilst we had initially planned to hike the short distance over to Pyramid and Column to camp, Hougaard suggested we change plans to camp just below Cleft Peak. Having found Rolands Cave occupied the day before I was keen to return with Steve – it didn’t make sense to hike further to a place that I had already photographed on a previous trip. Instead we hoped that sunset, or sunrise the following morning, would provide spectacular conditions from Cleft Peak.
The morning brought with it the highest inversion I have seen in the Berg and I made quick time up Cleft Peak to catch the earliest of the light. Cathedral Ridge and all the surrounding notable portions of the escarpment were submerged but it was nevertheless a productive morning.
Steve and I were keen to return to Roland’s Cave to spend the night whilst Hougaard and Milly planned to head down Organ Pipes Pass to get most of the way back to the hotel. Our walk to the head of the pass was in mist throughout. We said a quick goodbye (we would be seeing them the following day) and made the final climb up to Rolands Cave which is not easy to find unless you have been there before!
The final approach to the cave is pretty sketchy and takes some courage on the first attempt. Leaning against the cliff wall certainly helps, as does reminding yourself that the footing is actually very good. After walking the route a few times you become worryingly confident!