Table Mountain reveals a secret.


Scrambling on Silverstream Buttress

High up on Silverstream Buttress

Table Mountain never ceases to amaze me. There are always more secluded corners to be found, and more secrets to be revealed. This time it was a perfect tea-spot up in the tablecloth: sheltered from the gale-force South-Easter and commanding a fine view over the Mother City. A place where the satisfaction of completing a challenging route up the mountain could be enjoyed with good company, and tea of course!

Silverstream Buttress is a magnificent rocky ridge that props up the eastern end of Table Mountain’s North Face. The route, opened in 1895 by Messrs Austin and Travers-Jackson, is a C grade scramble (rope may be required), up to the Ledges Traverse level; and a D grade (ropes are required) climb up to the top. (Click here for an explanation of the grading system). The rock pitches have some awkward and exposed moves, and should definitely not be attempted by inexperienced hikers.


The approach to the route takes in one of the most scenic parts of the Contour Path: the waterfall and rock overhangs of Silverstream Ravine. Soon after this however, you start up the Buttress, and here’s where the fun begins! Route finding is critical as you wind your way up the mountain, tackling wonderful rock pitches along the way. The fynbos is in its spring bloom, and the sights and scents are exhilarating. After a few hours a great spot on a shoulder of the buttress is reached: time for a break! The views are panoramic, but the wind has picked up and it’s getting chilly. We put on those all-important extra clothing layers, and push on to keep warm.

Scrambling on perfect Table Mountain sandstone

Scrambling on perfect Table Mountain sandstone

A few more fine scrambling pitches brings one to the Silverstream-Ledges Traverse, an ingenious traverse line which leads right around to the Newlands side of the mountain. From here there are various ways to reach the top, and we settle on Saddle Face, an exciting and exposed C grade scramble. As we top out the Tablecloth envelops us: it’s gale-force, freezing cold and visibility is poor. Survival instinct kicks in; we pull up our hoods and head for the nearest rock outcrop to look for a sheltered spot.

Well that was when Table Mountain revealed one of her secrets. As we rounded the corner of the outcrop, the wind dropped away to a whisper, the mist parted, and the late afternoon sun peeped through. In no time the stove was roaring, and tea was served. That’s when it’s time to sit back on a rocky seat, warm your fingers around a hot cuppa, and enjoy that special camaraderie of the mountains.

To book a hike or scramble, please email me on or phone me on +21(0)79 772 9808

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