Drakensberg Nov. ’18 pt.1

In Trip Reports On Tuesday, December 18, 2018

In the spirit of my last blog post I thought I would put up a quick review of a couple of weeks I spent in the Drakensberg this November/December. 

The first week of the trip was a new workshop going from the Mnweni to Cathedral Peak. It was an unusual group in that it had more female clients (3) than male clients (2) a first for me but a nice change to the dynamic. It was my third time walking this approximate route and perhaps the 7th or 8th time that I had visited certain parts. Especially at the start my own photography took a back seat to assisting the group (correction: it always takes a back seat!) but nevertheless I took a few images which I am more than pleased with!

Our first camp gave this excellent view up to Rockeries albeit the weather wasnt initially welcoming. The rain that followed ultimately failed to live up to the billing of these menacing clouds. That night thunder rumbled around the mountains.
The following evening on top of the pass. It was actually great weather for our ascent and evening in the evening it remained dry. The ascent went well, we had extra porters to assist the ascent, which took us around 5 hours going at a slow pace.
Sunrise the following morning was perfectly nice, but I’ve been spoilt at this location in the past so my camera stayed tucked in its bag!
The Tonyelana area didn’t produce much in the way of afternoon or evening light although it wasn’t that bad either!
Morning was much better. The sun broke over the Chessmen on the Cathedral Ridge producing nice opportunites for abstracts.
A gap between peaks of the Cathedral Spur allows the sun to shine onto the shadowed western face of the ridge.
A little later

During the day we hiked towards Pyramid and Column (no photos again sorry!). For all of the day it felt like the night might bring an inversion, I’m not sure what exactly caused this notion, but something was different in the air. That night I awoke from my half-sleep to find a valley full of clouds. 

We headed out to a viewpoint over Pyramid and Column to find them just poking through the mist with the Milky Way arcing above. The moonrise was unexpected but ultimately created one of the most impossibly beautiful sights I have seen in the Drakensberg.
The moonlit mist swirling around Pyramid and Column. A special evening.
The view in the opposite direction towards the Cathedral Ridge. Not one for the portfolio, but nice all the same.
We were up at sunrise to find the tents frozen but unfortunately, we were in the mist. We headed out to the edge in the hope the cloud would drop, which it did momentarily after sunrise to reveal this scene. Perhaps 2 minutes later the view was gone.
Pyramid and Column reappeared after we had breakfasted and packed up. The inversion stayed for most of the day.
Lizzie and Rob, Wife and husband, were both strong hikers.
The main challenge of the day was to summit Cleft Peak, which we managed in time for lunch. We sat around for an hour or so enjoying the views.
This is the view from the top of Castle Butress in the Cathedral Peak area. You can just make out the Pyramid behind the flanks of Cleft Peak. I found this spot on a scout on the afternoon previous. The foregrounds here were particularly good – usually grazing prevents plants like this from growing.
The Sterkhorn
Two things make this image work for me: The island in the mist, reminiscent of a volcanic island in the ocean. And the colour gradient in the inversion, caused by a shadow from a cloud above. A curious detail is the apparent hole in the mountain, I’m not sure whether its a true hole or a weird overhang!
Descending past Organ Pipes on the way down Camel Pass
The full team. I’m there in the middle with Zee pouting next to me! Although she puts her serious hat on from time to time she’s a lot of fun and a great friend of mine.
The adventure nears an end! 
We reached Cathedral Peak Hotel in the early afternoon and then enjoyed all the luxuries of modern life.

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