This is highest peak on UCTMSC's Zuurberg property, and a peak well worth bagging. It is also one of the seven peaks that reach over 2000m in the Hex River range, and is a demanding, if not technically difficult, ascent. It can be seen from Ceres, to the north, as a giant whale-back on the skyline. It is often visited by the more adventurous student parties, while many others simply admire it from the comfort of Hoare hut, on Waaihoek
Peak. The peak forms the easternmost corner of the Zuurberg property, and is thus the most remote of the peaks on the property. The most popular route involves starting from the Waaihoek car park, and following the Waaihoek path to the crest of the ridge at Point Hi, approx. 1700m altitude. From here one gets one's first view of Buffelshoek Peak, and also of the long traverse required to reach it.
The start of the hike is about 100 km from Cape Town, along the N1 most of the way. The first stage of the hike involves 2-5 hours hiking to Point Hi, with a little scrambling near the top. From here one can head to Hoare hut for the night, or continue the traverse across to Perry Refuge, at about 1600m, at the foot of Sentinel Peak
. The traverse takes half a day or more, so only fit parties should consider reaching Perry in one day from the car park. The traverse itself involves a little common sense route finding, because the path dies out after about an hour of hiking from Point Hi. From Perry Refuge the route now goes over Sentinel Peak (the one with the big scree) and down the other side to the saddle between it and Buffelshoek Peak. Now all that is left is to pick your way through the rock bands on Buffelshoek Peak (head left a little at first, then after gaining a little elevation follow a small gully straight up toward the peak) until it opens out into green slopes on the huge rounded summit. Simply retrace your steps on the return.
Perry Refuge can also be reached from the south via Fonteintjiesberg, on MCSA property. This route involves a hike up Fonteintjiesberg, 1989m, then a steep descent to a point called Pulpit Nek, and from here a traverse around Horseshoe Peak and Mount Brody. This route is more complicated than the traverse from Waaihoek, and is more demanding in the route finding department. It is essential to know exactly where to descend Fonteintjiesberg because the wrong gully can quickly get you into trouble on a precipitous peice of mountain!
A permit costing about R20 / $3 is required if you are hiking in from the west through Zuurberg, as well as a deposit for the hut key, from the UCT Mountain and Ski Club. Climbing from the other sides is free, but mostly people go through Zuurberg anyway. You will also get a parking disc for Waaihoek parking, don't forget to display it on your dashboard/windscreen. The MSC website at www.sportsclubs.uct.ac.za/mountain is back online, so visit this for contact details.
When To Climb
It can be climbed any time of year, but winter snows can make some sections tricky, notably route finding in the scrambles on the Waaihoek route and the section between Sentinel and Buffelshoek peaks. During the traverse from Waaihoek to Perry there are a couple of steep ravines to cross as well. Summer can be very dry as the Western Cape is a winter rainfall area. There is usually water at Hoare hut and Perry Refuge, though these streams have on occasion dried up. All depends on when it last rained. Whatever season you climb in the Hex, be prepared. Recently there have been snows in March 2003, and even December - mid summer.
Camping is allowed on the Zuurberg property, and this does now include the hike up to Point Hi, since this land has recently been purchased by the club. However, there isn't really much point in camping on the way up. Hoare hut (on top) sleeps 20 or so and is well equiped, but this is only available to UCT MSC members, and MCSA members at a small price. Otherwise you can use Pell's hut which is close to Hoare hut but saves you making a detour off the traverse route. It is much smaller than Hoare but is nice and cosy providing the roof stays on. You will need to obtain a permit to use this hut. Perry Refuge is a corrugated iron shed, which sleeps about 6 people, but there is space for a couple more to sleep outside. There is a pool nearby which provides water just about all year round. Permision must be obtained from the MCSA to use this hut, since it is technically just outside the MSC's Zuurberg property.
Check www.weathersa.co.za for the "Worcester" forcast, as this is the nearest town. Note that if the forecast predicts partly cloudly, the cloud will always be on the mountain, where you are!
Perry Refuge is a great base for climbing a range of interesting peaks, such as those between it and Fonteintjiesberg (1989m) to the south. There are at least 7 other peaks of various difficulties in this area, all over 1700m.