Mashai pass can make a good winter walk after good snow. Crampons and a walking axe are needed. An interesting exit can be done by keeping in the main gully of the pass and taking a right hand side gully about 100m before the final rock band. Up this till it narrows, pass underneath a chock stone and mantelshelf onto the top.
Rutting Rhino Route
Grade: I WI 3
First accent G. Raubenheimer, C. de Carvalho, and I. Bailey. August 1996.
About 1.5 hours past Pillar Cave up Mashai Pass, a water fall is located on the left side just before the path zig zags up the left side of the valley.
Walk up the smear to below a thin ramp of ice (belay stance). Follow the ramp to a rock pillar, passing it on the right and, exit straight up to belay from a huge block on the ledge above. 50 meter pitch. Walk off to the right (north).
This route only forms after very cold and snowy conditions. It is prone to melting due to it being on a north-facing slope. The icefall forms in the shadow of Rhino Peak while the upper reaches of the drainage receive direct sun.
Ref: MCSA journal 1996
Half Pint and Quarter Cadaver
Two other ice smears occur in the area. Some 50 meters up the pass from the Rutting Rhino, an easy smear forms with a steep step at the top. This is called Half-Pint. Further up the pass on the north side is another easy smear named Quarter Cadaver. Both first climbed by G. Raubenheimer and C. deCarvalho.
Grade: II 2 F2
First accent: G. Raubenheimer, J. Farquharson. July 1990.
This is a snow gully route with a mixed section at the start. In years of very heavy snow this section is ramped over with snow.
From Pillar Cave hike over into the next valley south of Mashai Pass. This very quiet and beautiful valley runs up to between Mlambonja and Wilson's peaks. At a point below the two peaks it is split into two distinct gullies with "Panic Pile" standing between them.
Take the right hand gully. After the fork about 500m of boulder hopping brings one to a very narrow section at the base of the mountain. There are two huge chock stones with ice in between. Climb straight up and to the right of these blockages. Continue up the gully to the top. Easy snow/ice plod. Crampons and at least one axe are needed. Take a small selection of rock gear for the mixed pitch. Descent via the route or Mashai Pass.
The left hand fork of the valley has been climbed several times as far as the final rock band but never completed to the summit. Both these gullies commonly give lovely winter conditions well into September.
Ref: MCSA journal 1993
Mashai South Face
Grade: II 2 F2
First ascent: D. Watkins, D. Quaife, J. de Groote. July 1988.
This mixed climb is located on the south side of Mashai peak and is a snow gully with mixed sections along the way. To approach, hike up past Sleeping Beauty cave. When this valley starts to steepen towards the main wall of the Berg, about 1,5km after the cave, walk left into the next valley south. About one kilometre up this valley the route starts up a very long reverse "S" shaped gully. It runs from near the valley bottom continuously to the escarpment (see map).
Head up the gully avoiding a chocked chimney by going left. Carry on up the gully with easy mixed ground. Avoid a blockage by traversing onto the right hand-face for 10 meters, then up under an overhang. (F2) The gully becomes very narrow towards the top, up a series of icy chimneys. Climbing time: Half a day.
Ref: MCSA journal 1988