Here are a few of the recent trips that PEAK HIGH has undertaken:
The Mini Traverse January 2017
The northern Drakensberg can be very wet during January, but this time around we hit it lucky. There was good weather the entire way except for some cloud and mist at the top of Mlambonja Pass, which caused some careful navigation. I was guiding four ladies from the Gauteng region. All of them experienced hikers but wanted to get to know the Drakensberg better. We hiked the route over 5 days and 4 nights and had great views of Cathedral Peak, Champagne Castle and Monte-aux-Sources.
South Korean Film group – February 2017
At Peak High, we do some interesting and different jobs at times. This time around was guiding and being interviewed for a South Korean TV channel that features great hikes from around the world. I took them up the Rockeries Pass area of the northern Drakensberg for 3 days, where they filmed from land and from a drone. They used the time to eventually gather enough material for two 30-minute episodes, which will be screened in May 2017.
Spitzkop May- 2017
Simon Laker from the UK, has been a Peak High customer before when we guided him in the Drakensberg. This time he opted for the “Matterhorn of the desert”, Spitzkoppe in central Namibia. I drove the 2200kms from South Africa and met him there for 5 great days of desert friction climbing. We climbed the uber classic To Bolt or Not to Bolt, which is an 8 pitch grade 6a route on Pontok Spitz. We also did two other routes on Sugarloaf and perhaps the feature was climbing The Rhino’s Horn. This being a single pitch grade 6b route to the tiny summit of the horn followed by a breath taking abseil.
This is the second time we I have been asked to do a guided climb of the Sentinel for MBC. The Sentinel is a huge peak in the far north of the Drakensberg and forms the northern corner stone of the Amphitheatre massif. The area is famous for the Amphitheatre itself, the Tugela Falls and Monte-aux-Sources mountain. These three natural features draw people from around South Africa and the world.
We started out on Saturday the 9th of May from the Sentinel road head and hiked the easy 1.5 hours to the start of the Standard Route. This is the easy way to the top of Sentinel and involves only 2 easy pitches of climbing and one abseil on the return. All nine of us where on the summit by 2pm and enjoyed views of Cathedral Peak, Champagne Castle and even Giant’s Castle about 50kms away. The weather was exceptionally good and there was not a bit of wind or cloud for the entire day.
That night we spent bivving at Sentinel Cave and enjoyed sundowners on the rocks in front of the cave.
December 2014 – Walking Group Leader CourseI had the privilege of taking the very first Walking Group Leader Course, one of the new MDT certified courses which only came into existence in August 2014. Three participants took part and the course was held in Hilton area for the theory and then 3 days and two nights in the Cobham area of the Drakensberg. Part of the course involves limited visibility navigation and this we did on the first night. We purposely arrived after dark and then hiked in to our camping area at night. The second day involved more careful navigation, but this time in mist and rain and it was with some relief that we arrived at our cave for the night.
The Walking Group Leader Award is designed for people who want to lead groups in hill and mountainous areas, on non-technical terrain. With a strong focus on navigation, the award provides the leadership skills required to feel confident about taking people out walking. The award also includes expedition organization skills for multi-day trips.
Equipment usage and care
Walking and route finding
Responsibilities of the Leader
Access, conservation and environmental knowledge
Non-technical river crossings
Hazards and emergency procedures (not involving steep ground)
MDT and NQF training and qualification structure and skills
Scope and remit of the qualification
December 2013 – Guiding the Hutchinson family to Sentinel Cave
Angela Hutchinson from Cape Town asked me to take her and her 3 children, aged 13, 11, and 9 on a hike to Sentinel Cave in the northern Drakenberg.
This is an easy hike of about 2 hours from the car to the cave. The idea was for the children to experience a night, sleeping in a cave in the high Berg. The weather threaten to storm most of the first day, but we still had good views of the surrounding peaks and no actual rain fell. During the night there was a severe thunderstorm, but we remained warm and dry in the cave.
May 2013 – Mountaineering: Giant’s Castle via The Frontal Route
I (Gavin) guided John Hedges up the Frontal Route of Giant’s Castle. This is an easy rock-climbing route, but one which takes a spectacular line up the peak’s left-hand profile. The hike in is only for fit hikers, as on the day of the climb one ascends steep grass slopes for 2 hours until the point where a rope is needed. The climb consists of 3 pitches and lots of scrambling followed by 2 abseils (rapples) and a 5 hour walk back to the car. The grades are all easy and the climbing is never exposed on the harder sections. The night before the climb, we bivvied in the grasslands below the north face.
October 2013 Cleft Peak via Thanyaku Pass and Tseketseke Pass.
Peak High guided 4 lady clients from Belgium and the Netherlands on this 5 day, 4 night, route. 7 porters we also used. The hike started and ended at Didima Camp, Cathedral Peak area, alt 1306 m. Day one was started in very hot conditions in the Didima valley. This was followed by another hot and dry day when ascending the Thanyaku Pass, up to the 3000m level. Here we used the usual campsite just one kilometer north of the summit of the pass. In October 2013 there was a severe lack of water in most of the areas of the Drakensberg and this meant that we unfortunately did not have water close at hand for the night. Swimming in the usual river pool was also not possible.
Day three we moved up north to Organ Pipes Pass and camped a little into Lesotho, again to get near to a water source. Day 4 was the hardest as we ascended to the summit of Cleft Peak (3277m). This was followed by a steep descent to the top of Tseke tseke Pass and then even more steeply down to our campsite at the old Tseke hut. Here the rain set in during the night and the final day was misty and cold.
Spitzkop November 2012
One of our feature trips for 2012 was guiding Spitzkop in Namibia. My clients were Zach Brooks-Millar and Sharon Cox. This peak is sometimes called the “Matterhorn of the desert” and is a huge granite peak situated midway between Windhoek and the sea. November is not really the best time of year, as it can be very very hot in Namibia in summer time. We were just lucky, as on the days were were at the mountain, it was cool and overcast and we even had some rain for a few minutes. We did the Standard route which involves 7 pitches of easy climbing, lots of scambling and even 1 abseil during the ascent part of the climb. To get off the summit takes 3 long abseils, followed by another 2 short ones lower down. In the 2 days afterwards we climbed 2 other routes on some of the surrounding rock peaks.
Spitzkop is a great trip and can be climbed in just a 3-5 day round trip from South Africa. There is both trad and sport climbing of all grades and lengths. One usually camps in tents on the desert floor. There is a small pub and shower area at the entrance to the park gate.
Road trip in South Africa – May 2009
Elena Steiner from the USA spent a week long trip climbing at Howick Falls and Monteseel with Hannelie Morris and then at Eagle Rock, Swinburne and the Sentinel in the Drakensberg with Gavin. After this it was on to Magaliesberg just north of Johannesburg for long easy Trad routes. It was also a special trip for Elena as Gavin took her on her first “lead” climb at Eagle Rock.
The Alps – September 2009
Gavin spent 9 days in France, Italy and Switzerland on a road trip guiding Scotsman, David Gemmell. The climbing was all on rock, at low altitude and based from comfortable accommodation. They did routes at Chamonix, Martigny and Grimsell Pass, climbing over 50 pitches in total. The highlight trip for the year!
Wadi Rum – October 2009
Gavin’s second trip overseas for 2009. This was guiding Alan McEwan on a week-long trip to this exotic desert location. “The Rum” consists of 400m high sandstone peaks which rise out of the Arabian desert in southern Jordan. The climbing is mostly “Trad” involving long crack-lines needing many large cams and thread belays.
Mt Kenya December 2008
In December 2008 Gavin Raubenheimer guided Dr. Beth McLeod to the summit of Mt Kenya. The expedition went well with perfect climbing and trekking conditions for all 9 days of the trip. After crossing the Lewis Glacier, the roped climbing started at 6am. By 3pm they were on the summit. After spending a night in the Howell hut on top of the peak, they did the 13 abseils down the next day.
The Cape2Cape Aids Awareness Expedition November 2008
Gavin guided 7 members of this expedition to Mafadi peak, which was the groups final summit of the Cape2Cape expedition. This expedition had travelled overland from Norway raising awareness of Aids and HIV, by climbing the highest mountains in all the countries they passed through.
Climb-Against – Crime October 2008
This was a 5 day climbing trip organised by Climb – Against- Crime to help raise money for this worthy cause. Five ladies from Johannesburg climbed 5 peaks in 5 days. The peaks were Cathedral Peak, Outer Horn, The Mitre, The Cockade and Cleft Peak.
Spitzkoppe , Namibia June 2008
Gavin guided Samuel Lavie and his brother Ofir up the Standard Route of Spitzkop in the Namib desert of Namibia. Climbing conditions were perfect. The last hour of descent was made in the dark !