Mountaineering in the Cape: Uitkykkop

Eva at the summit beacon

Eva at the summit beacon

Nestled at the foot of the Riviersonderend Mountains, just a few hours drive from Cape Town, is the village of Greyton. One of the peaks which loom over the village is Uitkykkop (Lookout Peak), a free-standing summit of 1465m, and this is what Eva and I set out to climb on a May week-end.

 

 

Cederberg boulders on the grassy vlakte.

Cederberg boulders on the grassy vlakte.

After a pleasant drive on back roads surrounded by colourful mountain and farm scenery, we reached Greyton and checked into the Zebra Moon Hiker’s Hostel. This solid old building once housed school children, but now accommodates hikers, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. It is basic, but comfortable and affordable, and has that real “old school” feel. The upstairs rooms have spectacular mountain views, and for only R150 per person sharing. Greyton has a variety of restaurants if one is feeling too lazy to self cater at Zebra Moon. This also provides opportunities to meet the interesting local characters…

Looking down into Noupoortkloof, Uitkykkop on the left.

Looking down into Noupoortkloof, Uitkykkop on the left.

The next morning we drove to the Greyton Nature Reserve, from where many of the hiking trails begin, including the extremely popular Boesmanskloof Trail to Macgregor. There are trails for all here, from short easy strolls, to adventurous mountaineering and kloofing. We set off up the zigzags to the left of Noupoortkloof, and then branched off straight up the ridge to the first rock band. Here one has the option to go left to avoid the steep bit, or to do some mountaineering! We picked out a line, and scrambled up the buttress to find a perfect ‘second breakfast’ spot on top.  What could be better than kicking back with a coffee in wild mountain surroundings!

Second breakfast spot

Second breakfast spot

Rested and refuelled, we continued up and across a grassy vlakte with interesting Cederberg-style boulders. Far below us we could hear the roar of waterfalls in the deep, dark Noupoortkloof. The peak loomed ahead, but we could see that getting to the summit would involve a long slog up fynbos slopes, followed by more scrambling on the summit ridge. We decided on our turn-around time and then cracked on up the slope.

 

Eva powering up the slog

Eva powering up the slog

Summit fever, and the “mouse-path foot placements”, helped us see off the slog, and soon we were carefully picking our way up the final ridge. This section required some care as it was exposed and had some loose rock. Classic Cape mountaineering! We built a few beacons to be sure of finding the descent line if the clouds pulled in, and soon we were on the summit marvelling at the panoramic view over the mountain ranges all around. It is a special privilege to find, and write one’s name in, the summit book on one of these peaks.

The summit ridges below Uitkykkop.

The summit ridges below Uitkykkop.

Now it was time to get off the peak, and descend the “Hillary Step” before stopping for lunch on a sunny corner of the ridge. The descent went quickly, and soon we were back on the grassy vlakte. We detoured around the lower buttress, and made it down as the sunset bathed the peaks in glorious soft light. A great day out in a spectacular mountain environment! The whole round trip took about 8 hours, and hikers should be properly equipped with all-weather gear, food, water and cell phone programmed with emergency numbers.

 

On the way down in the evening light.

On the way down in the evening light.

For more information please contact Mike on info@guidedbymike.co.za


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