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Tierkloof abseil

Paul Verhoeven arranged this exclusive adventure for a small group of mountain club members. It involved climbing the Peaks (¨Pieke¨), some of the highest summits in the Jonkershoek area and then 9 abseils down Tierkloof, the cleft that angles down south of the westernmost peak. I was a little nervous the night before and slept […]

Cathedral and Banghoek peaks

Heading up Slabs

As Paul, the hike leader, had warned, the climb of the Cathedral (Second Ridge Peak) and Banghoek Peak would make for a “lang dag”. And so it proved to be. The MCSA party of fourteen covered 16.5 km and climbed a total of 1790 m over 10.5 hours.

We ascended via […]

Eikenhofkloof abseil, Groot Drakenstein

Eikenhofkloof is much more benign than Volstruiskloof. There are only about 7 shortish abseils down sloping walls rather than the precipitous, long drops down Volstruiskloof. So I would recommend that you do this one first if you are a novice. Paul Verhoeven led this Mountain Club outing and once more we were blessed with wonderful, […]

Volstruiskloof: 15 abseils later

Duiwelskloof (Devil’s Ravine), Duiwelstand (Devil’s Tooth), Groot Drakenstein (Great Dragonstone), Helshoogte (Hell’s Heights), Banghoek (something like Scary Corner) – these mountain feature names suggest something about the nature of the mountainscape in which this annual, mountain club abseil trip is located. The Groot Drakenstein massif rises to the east of greater Stellenbosch and is indeed […]

Victoria Peak in the snow

The best experiences are always born of spur-of-the-moment decisions. Kevin Koorzen and I were both suffering from cabin fever after weeks of winter had gripped the Cape spring but as the first sunny day revealed white peaks, we were “on”. An early setback was being told at the Jonkershoek gate that the road was closed […]

Somerset-Sneeukop – a birthday surprise

This hike will long be remembered for the sweet surprise of a birthday cake at 1105 m ASL. Yolanda and Kevin hatched the plot and Kevin carried it up in his already very full pack. He even played dumb when I happened to mention that it was my birthday as we took photos from the […]

Video: Botmaskop to Saaltjie hike

Kevin led an MCSA hike from Botmaskop along the watershed to Saaltjie, the north-eastern rim of the Jonkershoek valley. It was the reverse of a route previously hiked. A pleasant morning that left me with stiff flanks. It must be because of all the cycling …

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Boegoekloof Circuit Boland Trail

Some of the benefits of being a mountain club member are that you get to go to places that you would not normally be able to explore – and camp out there – and share the mountains with like-minded people who also know what they are doing in these lofty places. Although this hike uses […]

Full moon at Dwarsberg

So there I was in bed, sleepily easing into a lazy Saturday morning with no particular plans or obligations when an SMS pinged in on my ‘phone: would I like to join the mountain club party that was heading up that morning to the Dwarsberg plateau to overnight under full moon? Somebody had withdrawn at […]

Square Tower Peak: where nobody goes

Square Tower Peak has attained a degree of notoriety in the Stellenbosch Section of the Mountain Club. When a club trail leader from Cape Town called Stellenbosch’s Paul Verhoeven asking for directions down from the peak, the helpful reply went something like this: “What are you doing of up there? Nobody ever goes there!” Well […]

Scrambling up the Cathedral

The tree where the leopards sharpen their claws

Katedraal is the Afrikaans name for the Second Ridge Peak, one of the thin, serrated ridges that line the eastern rim of the Jonkershoek valley south of the Pieke(Twin Peaks). The Mountain Club’s Stellenbosch section tackled it as yet another cold front made ready to pounce. […]

Solitary walk on Stellenbosch Mountain

Henge with roof

When Paul bailed from our planned hike I was so desperate to get into the mountains again that I did something that is not recommended and is potentially stupid: I went hiking alone. It was the first hot day of spring, 34°C or so, and crystal clear. Cape Point was clearly […]

Jonkershoek Panorama Route

The Panorama Route is one of the Jonkershoek valley’s classic day trails. From the bridge (Witbrug) at the apex of the circular road, where you climb the left side of the valley, to where you descend to the Swartboskloof parking area, you will walk about 17.1 km, climb through 1665 m (maximum elevation is 1267m) […]

Franschhoek to Jonkershoek via Assegaaiboschkloof

Assegaaiboschkloof looking east on a clear day

The mountain club’s plan was to walk from Franschhoek to Jonkershoek along the watershed via Emerald Dome and Victoria Peak. We would ascend Fortsnek and cross Noordkloofpiek, the scene of last year’s firefighting. It promised to be a long, hard, but spectacular, day. But an unseasonal south-easter […]

All along the watershed – Saaltjie to Botmaskop

Twin Peaks

Last Sunday I hosted some of the Patagons and other hiking buddies at Jonkershoek for a day hike – “not too long, too high and too hard” was the request.

So I thought it would be nice to follow the eastern watershed from north of Twin Peaks to Botmaskop – not too […]

Victoria Peak with the Patagons

Kelson above Jonkershoek valley

At the beginning of the week that I finally became a member of the Mountain Club of SA, some of the Patagonian trekkers and I headed for Victoria Peak, the highest peak in the Jonkershoek mountains. It was a warm day with high cloud and haze and no wind. Pretty […]

Climbing Haelkop, Jonkershoek

Another mountain club uitstappie to Haelkop peak (1390 m), one of the loftier peaks that rim the Jonkershoek valley. The route upwards to the watershed north of Haelkop is a fairly easy, yet relentlessly uphill, hike. Near the top the gradients steepen markedly. From the summit the views are panoramic and breathtaking. On […]

Climbing Twin Peaks, Jonkershoek

Climbing Jonkershoek’s Twin Peaks (“Die Pieke“) is one of the outdoor experiences in the Jonkershoek mountains. On this occasion I went with the mountain club (MCSA) on the “uitstappie“. An uitstappie is one of those wonderfully euphemistic, Afrikaans terms that could mean anything from a stroll in the park to a mission. A Twin Peaks […]

VWS Jonkershoek firefighters in the Franschhoek mountains

Unfortunately – and unsurprisingly – my words were prescient: it has indeed become an “interesting” summer in the Boland mountains. Since December Volunteer Wildfire Services Jonkershoek (VWS-JNK) has been called out at least 6 times to fires in the local mountains (“local” is a relative concept – in our case it means 290 000 ha […]

Volunteer Wildfire Services Jonkershoek

As I was contemplating a short post about the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS), and specifically its rookie branch in the Jonkershoek valley, we were called out to mop up a plantation fire above Rozendal yesterday at around 6 pm. It was our first op since 27 Jonkershoek volunteers qualified in November – so there was […]

Jonkershoek colour explosion

Photos of the Watsonias in Jonkershoek after the big summer fire and the winter rains. Deon and I took a cycle up the valley to capture them before the summer winds take their toll.

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Climbing Victoria Peak

At 1589m Victoria Peak is the highest summit in the Jonkershoek area. It is visible beyond the valley from Stellenbosch and is often – as it is today – covered in a white blanket of snow. The route as shown in this Google Earth track winds up the eastern edge of the Jonkershoek […]

A caracal in Stellenbosch

A few weeks ago, after the fires that charred the mountains in the Jonkershoek valley,

Caracal. Source: Wikipedia

I was cycling to work through the Jan Marais Nature Reserve which is located near the centre of town. As I rounded a corner I was stunned to see a beautiful big caracal standing in the […]

Jonkershoek hiking

Five k’s from my home in Stellenbosch is the rugged Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. The area boasts the highest rainfall in the Western Cape, and two major rivers rise at the valley head: the Berg and the Eerste rivers.

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