Part of the imposing Drakensberg escarpment forming the border between South Africa and Lesotho, this is the second highest peak in the northern section of the range (after Mount aux Sources, just 1 meter higher). Not climbed by many parties, you're very likely to have the summit to yourself. The easiest routes (Mlabonja Buttress and Organ Pipes Pass) are just walking with a little bit of easy scrambling. However, it's a very steep uphill all the way to the escarpment, and then a better part of the day walking through 'hills' at over 3000m altitude.
This peak can be reached in several ways from Lesotho or from any trek on the escarpment of the northern berg. The most direct approach is from the Cathedral Peak Campsite or the camp site at the base of Mike's Pass. Both of these can be reached by taking the dirt road from Winterton on the N3 or the Bergville-Loskop dirt road, 70km south of Harrismith. From Cathderal Peak or Mike's Pass various options are possible. Organ Pipes is in my opinion the easiest and brings one up west of Cleft Peak. The Camel ascent brings one up at the same spot as Organ Pipes but follows a route west of Organ Pipes. An ascent past Column and Pyramid bring one up to the east of the peak.
The mountains belong to the Natal Parks Board. Admission must be paid on arrival (about US$1), overnight hikes (a trip to Cleft will take more than a day) must pay a camping fee (about US$2 per person per night). To obtain a permit a detiled form about the party must be filled in. Mountain registers at the Cathedral Peak Hotel and the Mike's Pass campsite must be completed in full and in detail before embarking on any trip to the escarpment. This is critical and is for your own safety. In order to avoid a fruitless rescue trip please remember to sign the register again immediately on your return from the mountain. The register will require you to submit information such as a detailed route plan (including all overnight camps), the colour of tents, the experience rating of party members, who is carrying what equipment etc.
Rangers may wish to inspect your gear. Do not be offended by this. They are the ones who will have to rescue you if the weather turns bad and are entitled to satisfy themselves as to your degree of preparation before letting you leave.
Do not underestimate how dangerous a mountain the Drakensberg can be. Any doubters are directed to Reg Pearse's famous books "Dragon's Wrath" and "Barrier of Spears".
Usual rules for nature conservation apply
When To Climb
November to February is a very high rainfall season and should be avoided, as all routes up the escarpment become rivers. June/July (winter) is the best season despite being the coldest (temperatures could be as low as -20C and snow is not unusual.
At the Cathedral Peak there is only hotel accomdation. Camping is not permitted within a 5km radius of the hotel. A camp site is available at the base of Mike's Pass. Camping is permitted throughout the berg n tents or in certain caves. Caves containing bushman paintings are strictly off limits for camping and caves must be booked in advance in the mountain register. Fires are strictly prohibited. If camping on the top of the escarpment tents need to be able to withstand very strong winds. There have also been reports recently of thefts at campsites and from tents on the escarpment.
Cathedral Peak Enquiries & Reservations
Private Bag X1
- Climbing ZA
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