Grotto Fountain Cairn Traverse

Following my previous blog, I didn’t know whether I was going to hike or go rock-climbing today as the rock-climbers offered me a harness and a helmet plus getting shoes for me at Hangtime plus teach me how to lead a 9!  Sheesh, decisions, decisions!  But then in the taxi on Friday, I looked up at the mountain and a feeling swept across me.  I had the desire to hike to a peak and my mind was made up J  Also, we are to do Grotto Fountain Cairn Traverse which I haven’t done yet and I’m easily swayed by new routes ^_^ .  It’s a B4 graded route so no biggie …no research required….or so I thought!!!

We were to meet at Kloof Corner car park at 7:15 for 7:30am and we get there and no-one else is there!  Everyone else is probably busy with Ramadaan prep and others went Rock-climbing and others completed their final day of their rock-climbing course J

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There was a whole bunch of skateboarders though and they were going down Kloof Nek ^_^ Eugene looked like he was one of the skaters but it turned out that he is joining us J  Nardus is there was well and we only started at 7:50am as I got distracted by the sunrise ^_^

Anyway the 4 of us started from Kloof Corner along the pipe track and its 5*C people!  IT IS COLD!!!! I kept my jacket on which I would normally leave in the car as there’s no space in my bag for it as I will take it off once I’m warmed up.  This only happened after a brisk walk to Cairn Ravine!   I picked an empty Redbull can and juice bottle as well.  Even less space in my bag now x_x

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Anyway, after answering the call of nature we make our way up Grotto which is also the start of Blinkwater and bushwhacking ensues and getting snagged that a branch I didn’t see, pierced my thigh.  I thought to myself that that was going to draw blood.

Anyway these guys are setting a brisk pace and I didn’t have time to take photos sigh and only stopping for a minute or two to catch our (my)  breaths and slow down our (my) heart rate.  I’ve done Grotto Ravine to the caves before and I actually forgot how much scrambles this route has.

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We take our first refreshment break at an overhang and I’m grateful as I had something in my boot which was quite uncomfortable. As Muhammed Ali (may he R.I.P)  said in one of is quotes:  It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you down, its the pebble in your shoe’  Somewhere along the way, I don’t know where or how, but I hurt my right shoulder somehow so taking off and putting on my bag was awkward.  Onward and upwards we go and as I was expecting something new, I ask Anwar, when then?!  He then points out where we need to be and I remembered that we actually went to check out the Traverse on our first hike up Grotto ^_^  Didn’t look too bad from where we were…..’You know nothing Jon Snow’

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We are traversing and I check out the sheer drops and all is well and I could still take a photo of the view from the traverse.  These guys are really scurrying so didn’t have time to take as many photos as I wanted to and still we got snagged a few more times.  We have breakfast along the traverse and finally got to enjoy the views!  I also feel wetness on my thigh and knew it was blood.  Oh well, no biggie.  Anwar says that there are just 2-3 hectic moments ahead and I’m not too worried as it’s only a B4 graded route after all…

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Traversing around the mountain to Fountain Ravine and now checking the sheer drops which is actually higher than Carell’s Ledge and I gulp!  O_O  ok, still not too worried, just extra careful as the path is narrower than Carrell’s Ledge and way longer!  And don’t take too many photos as sheesh!  Those sheer exposed drops on narrow path hey.

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We get to the Fountain and I’m like WTF?!  There’s a fallen tree we have to go over which is not a biggie BUT once over that tree, there’s a sheer drop.  We have to climb up along another tree, between flowing water!  This section actually reminds me of the most technically challenging climb up Woody Buttress and Woody Buttress is one of my favourite scrambles BUT this route is wet.  Ok, with a deep breath I cross the tree and I’m attempting to climb but I’m scared.  It is the first time, post overcoming my phobia for heights!  That I said out loud: “Anwar!  I’m scared!”  I was so freaking scared that my fingers were going to slip and I fall to my death.  There is no falling and injuring a limb or two, it’s falling to my death!  I’m standing on another branch and I’m scared this branch is not going to hold my weight!  It’s not a matter of holding onto a rock/boulder to climb but a bark of a tree!  What if that bark breaks with my weight and I slip and I fall!  To my death!  Did I mention the sheer drops?! I lost confidence in my own strength and ability and this is dangerous!  In this moment I spewed a string of profanities at Anwar for putting me through this but he knew not to take me seriously as I was just releasing the tension from my body.  Very unbecoming and I haven’t done this before and I apologise profusely.  Eugene and Nardus just laughed and understood that it was needed.

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Ok, with another deep breath and Anwar guiding me from above and Eugene holding my feet stable and when I felt secure, leaning back slightly, I’m up and over!  THANK YOU!!!! I’m a little mentally shaken but strangely enough, I wasn’t physically shaken….odd…I couldn’t even get myself to take photos of Eugene and Nardus climbing up but anyway when I looked up ahead of me, I was in awe of what I was seeing in front of me.  Fountain Ravine or whatever it’s called is Beeyouteafull!

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Anwar is then checking the route and it’s wet.  It’s so wet that it has moss.  And we have to traverse that!  Which is not even a half a foot wide! I’m not impressed but carefully and with guidance and reassurance from Eugene and Nardus as they are now concerned for me lolz.  Much appreciated guys!  They even slowed down their pace to accommodate me as each step is slow, careful and deliberate.  We are still traversing sheer drops with narrow foot paths!  Carrel’s Ledge or any other Traverse I’ve done has got nothing on this route!  I tell Anwar that I could’ve been safely tied to a harness and rope rock-climbing but now I’m doing this! Eugene or Nardus, I can’t remember which one, said I must hurry along as I’m losing body fluids lol (blood)

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Photo Cred to Nardus…even here, a photo cannot capture the sheer drop

Finally!  We can do normal scrambles but I am tired and still getting scratched some more.  We are thankfully close to the top of Kloof Corner Ridge where we have a refreshment break.  We are also watching some rock-climbers and someone abseiling.

Slight traverse to India Venster path and we are distracted once more by watching more rock-climbers but eventually it’s time to go and I’m leading the way down.  Now I can move fast hehe.  It’s down the chain and staples and then we see the rock-climbers on their course J  We shout and wave at them and watch them a bit but as I’m cooling down, I opt to go ahead.  Although the rest did catch up with me and I go and hurt my wrist again sigh.

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Nardus kindly climbed down from the path to pick up 2 empty plastic bottles

We are at the Lower Cable Station by 1pm with another 20 minute walk to the cars at Kloof Corner and check out with Tracking J

In the car, Anwar ask me why was I so scared and told him I don’t know.  After much deliberation, it occurred to me that it could be from last week’s rock-climb attempting the 18 climb and slipping and falling each time.  Without the safety of the rope doing those scrambles with exposed sheer drops below, I felt fear. I was quite embarrassed that I felt fear but I do believe it was the fear that kept me safe and made me extra cautious and not be overly confident.

Nevertheless, I will do this route again now that I know what to expect and will gain my confidence back J Today’s hike is definitely up there as one of the most epic hikes in Cape Town!

At home, I check that I have 2 10cm welts across my right thigh, the bleeding gash from my left thigh plus another 10cm bleeding scratch on my right shin that I haven’t a clue where I got from and a scratch across my forehead.  And this is besides the various bruises and rashes from being pricked by thorn bushes! As my son says, that when I run out of scars from the mountain, I get some more.  Now I collected enough for the month long Fast during Ramadan lolz.

I may or may not go Rock-climbing still but will see how that goes.

Those who are celebrating Ramadan, may you have a blessed month and all our good deeds be rewarded and all bad ones be swept from our slate.

Until my next hike or rock-climb, ciao for now and thank you as always, for reading J

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Grotto Fountain Cairn Traverse

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