Inner Horn to Twins

Copyright: MCSA-KZN 1998 ©


Note: For any route on the Inner Horn, the quickest descent is a single 40m abseil off a good block from the west edge of the peak and straight down to the Inner Horn - Chessmen nek. From there an easy scramble leads straight down to the Twins-Bell traverse path.

INNER HORN: North Face (F)

(Map #2 : AD:45 : 3005m)

Opening Party: F Scheffler, H van Aswegen, H Meyer, E Lotz, Lynette Marais and Engela du Toit.

Date: July 1962.

This climb goes up a deep, narrow gully that cuts into the north face near its eastern extremity. It can best be reached by traversing from the base of the east face along a thin grass ledge. A short E grade pitch and some scrambling inside the gully leads to a 'perfect little cave', at which point the gully steepens to form a smooth and very narrow chimney. Avoid the top portion of the chimney by traversing out to the right, level with the top of the cave, and climb a 20m open book recess of F standard. Scramble to the summit.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1962, pg 90.

 

INNER HORN: East Face (F)

(Map #2 : AD:45 : 3005m)

Opening Party: Gillian Bettle, Phil Goodwin, Terry Norcott and Des Watkins.

Date: 1953.

This route goes up towards the right hand edge of the east face - it is almost a 'north arete' route. Commence at the nek between the Horns. Scramble up mixed rock and grass to the foot of the final face, just to the left of the north arete. A cairn once marked the start of the climbing at the base of a chimney.

  1. 20m E. Climb the chimney and the face above.
  2. Walk right for about 30m to a cubbyhole.
  3. 30m E. Climb up heading diagonally left.
  4. 20m D. Climb up heading diagonally right.
  5. 10m F. Climb a 'very shaky' pitch on a face. The initial 10m is followed by a diagonal right and then diagonal left traverse that leads to the summit.

The route is clearly marked on the photo in the reference. Along with Wong's route on the Bell, it is a good climb to remember when south facing climbs in the area are wet, icy or snowed-up.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1953, pg 67 and photo facing pg 66.

 

INNER HORN: South Face: Hobson's Choice (F)

(Map #2 : AD:45 : 3005m)

Opening Party: Mike and Liz Burton, Doyle Liebenberg, Harry Barker and Tony Hooper.

Date: Winter 1940.

Start from the nek between the Horns. Traverse south and around the corner formed by the crest of the south east ridge. This ridge runs down to the Mlambonja Valley. Once around the corner, take the first gully that presents itself. Scramble up this gully, passing minor obstructions, to reach the base of a 30m chimney. Climb the chimney, which is easy at first, but is graded F because of the problem encountered in bypassing the mass of chockstones blocking the top. Make a daring move out of the chimney and round the chockstone. Breathe a sigh of relief and scramble to the top. On the opening ascent, the leader was top-roped through the crux move by another party who had gained the summit by the standard route.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1940, pg 21.

 

INNER HORN: South Face: Verkeerde Krans (E)

(Map #2 : AD:45 : 3005m)

Opening Party: Hans Wong and party.

Date: May 1941.

Traverse south from the nek between the Horns, around the corner formed by the crest of the south east ridge and then on past the Hobson's Choice gully to a chimney 'about halfway across' the south face. Pleasant E grade climbing leads to the top. Comment: The original RD refers to this line as being on the east face. However, armchair critics concur that it should refer to the south face.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1941, pg 21.

 

INNER HORN: South Face: Hidden Chimney Route (E)

(Map #2 : AD:45 : 3005m)

Opening Party: Gavin Peckham and Mike Maxfield.

Date: 31 December 1994.

From the Twins-Bell traverse path, scramble up to the nek between the Inner Horn and the first of the Chessmen. Scramble down the other (Mlambonja) side for a short distance until it is possible to start walking along a broad grass ledge that runs across the south face of the Inner Horn. Continue along the grass ledge for about 300m (?) to a short, broad, grassy gully that leads up to two distinctive, parallel chimneys in the final rock band surrounding the summit plateau. These chimneys are about 10m apart and may offer reasonable climbs. To the left of the parallel chimneys is a small rock buttress and to the right is a larger buttress. A small branch of the gully runs up to the right, around the base of the larger buttress, and then 'disappears' to the left around the back of the buttress. The route goes up the chimney at the end of the small gully which is 'hidden' behind the larger buttress. It is possible to scramble up the 'hidden' gully itself. However, it is much easier to walk up to the parallel chimneys and then walk to the right on a narrow grass ledge (above a band of broken rock) that leads all the way around the larger buttress to the bottom of the route.

The chimney contains several chockstones. The first is small and loose, the second is ideal and the third is large and needs a long sling (and reach). Climb up and place a sling around the third chockstone then traverse out left on good rock, past a pocket to a second pocket with a few tufts of grass. Climb up through the second pocket and continue up, heading slightly left to exit on the summit plateau.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1996, pg 137.

 

INNER HORN: South Face: Big Flake Route (E)

(Map #2 : AD:45 : 3005m)

Opening Party: Gavin Peckham and Mike Maxfield.

Date: 31 December 1994.

This route goes up the buttress that conceals the Hidden Chimney route. Scramble up into the 'hidden' gully. When one views the left (skyline) edge of the buttress from within the 'hidden' gully, a 5m vertical crack is seen halfway up. This crack separates a big flake from the main face of the buttress.

Climb straight up to the start of the crack and then continue up the crack itself. A few more metres on easy rock leads to the summit plateau. This is an ideal beginner's climb on good, clean rock all the way.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1996, pg 137.

 

INNER HORN: South Face Gully (Standard Route) (D)

(Map #2 : AD:45 : 3005m)

Opening Party: Gavin Peckham.

Date: 02 January 1995.

From the Twins-Bell traverse path, scramble up to the nek between the Inner Horn and the first of the Chessmen. Scramble down the other (Mlambonja) side for a short distance until it is possible to start walking along a broad grass ledge that runs across the south face of the Inner Horn. Continue along the grass ledge for about 200m to a steep grassy gully with a few rock steps, that leads up diagonally left to the top.

Easy scrambling leads to a large chockstone about halfway up the gully. Gain the top of this chockstone by squeezing through below and behind it. From the top of the chockstone a couple of C grade moves give access to the next grassy section. The last few metres become steep and a couple of D grade moves on good rock lead to the summit.

This is the easiest way to the top of the Inner Horn now that the belay block has fallen off the west face route. There is no exposure and only the faint of heart will have need of a rope. It is reasonably easy to down-climb the route. However, ropes will facilitate a quick descent, straight down to the Inner Horn - Chessman nek, from a convenient block located at a point directly overlooking the nek. Copyright: MCSA-KZN 1998 ©

Ref: MCSA Journal 1996, pg 136.

 

INNER HORN: West Face (ex-Standard route) (E)

(Map #2 : AD:45 : 3005m)

Opening Party: Hubert Botha-Reid and party.

Date: 1925.

Scramble up from the Twins-Bell traverse path to the nek between the Horn and the Chessmen. Start just over the nek and less than 50m down on the Mlambonja side. Viewed from here a broad, grassy gully runs gently down from the summit and then drops over a vertical rock step into a steeper gully below. Start on the buttress of broken rock to the left of this gully. Climb straight up on mixed rock and grass for about 5m until upward progress becomes tricky. Until recently there was a belay block at this point. It has since fallen off, making the route at least one grade more difficult. Move out to the right on good, clean rock until it is possible to climb up to easier ground. Walk up and across to the broad, grassy gully and then up this to the summit plateau.

Ref: MCSA Journals 1925; 1930, pg 33 and 1936, pg 47.

 

THE CHESSMEN

(Map #2 : AD:46 : 2865m to 2897m)

Opening Party: Doyle Liebenberg and others.

Date: 1940.

This jagged ridge that connects the Inner Horn and the Mitre was originally known as Saw Tooth Ridge. The reason for the name change is not clear. From the valleys below, the Chessmen appear as a series of sharp, almost needle-like pinnacles, however, from close this impression is lost. The first eight, adjacent to the Inner Horn, may be climbed using various routes of B, C or D standard. After the first eight, the ridge is interrupted by a deep break. No recorded ascents have been made of the remaining Chessmen, except for the one adjacent to the Mitre - this is known as the Ntonjelane Needle.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1940, pg 22.

 

NTONJELANE NEEDLE

This small pinnacle was so named (MCSA Journal 1934, pg 71) owing to the 'rock on the summit being perforated to form an eye.' There is no 'eye' in the very tiny summit at this time. There is, however, a pair of holes through the main south arete, well over 50m away from the summit. Eye or no eye, the name is nevertheless appropriate because, although broad in shape when viewed from the east or west, the peak is so thin, that when seen edge-on, from the north or the south, only a needle-like sliver of rock is visible.

NTONJELANE NEEDLE: East Face (D)

(Map #2 : AC:46 : 2987m)

Opening Party: Gavin Peckham and Mike Maxfield.

Date: 01 January 1995.

From the nek between the Mitre and the Needle, scramble to the right (south) and up, to reach a pair of holes through the main south arete. Climb through the larger, lower hole and then scramble across to the nek between the Needle and the next (unnamed) Chessman. The top of the Needle lies directly above this nek. Climb straight up from the nek on easy rock and grass to the topmost block, which is climbed on the left. Abseil down the west face off a block on the summit. A second optional ab, avoids scrambling down rock bands and ends not far from the nek with the Mitre.

This route is much quicker and easier than the original south arete route and requires only one pitch of climbing instead of two. The original line is, however, more appealing.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1998, pg 136.

 

NTONJELANE NEEDLE: South Arete (E)

(Map #2 : AC:46 : 2987m)

Opening Party: F E 'Tom' Ellis and Brian Godbold.

Date: July 1934.

From the nek between the Mitre and the Needle, scramble to the right (south) and up, to reach a pair of holes through the main south arete. Climb through the larger, lower hole to reach the east side of the arete. From here a 30m pitch angles up to the right to reach a good belay on the crest of the arete. A 25m pitch up the arete on good rock leads to the summit. Abseil down the west face off a block on the summit. A second optional ab, avoids scrambling down rock bands and ends not far from the nek with the Mitre.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1934, pp 70, 71 and 73.

 

MITRE: North East Chimney (E)

(Map #2 : AC:46 : 3023m)

Opening Party: Tony Hooper, Margery Robinson, Mary Lear and Else Wongtschowski.

Date: May 1941.

From the Horns side, the Mitre appears very broken and a deep crack (gully) halfway up seems to cut it in half. After the last Chessman, an easy col leads up under the head of the Mitre. Scramble around to the right and head for the gully. Three reasonably tricky rock pitches lead up to an arete at the top of the gully. A short traverse leads to a rotten 20m pitch. A deep crack now appears to cut off the ridge from the crest, however a chockstone about 5m down makes a bridge. The other side of the bridge is not too difficult and after one more D pitch, the top is reached.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1941, pg 25.

 

MITRE: South Side (E)

(Map #2 : AC:46 : 3023m)

Opening Party: Martin Winter and Terry Norcott.

Date: May 1954.

This climb is approached from the Mlambonja Valley. The climb starts on the south side and gradually works round to the west side. The climbing is easy and on good rock most of the way.

Start up the southern slopes of the Mitre, scrambling over the lower rock bands until the highest broad grass ledge below the final dome-shaped mass of rock. From this ledge, the climb commences on a large, partly detached column of rock lying against the final dome on the south side.

Scramble up this column for a short distance and then rope a 10m pitch of E standard to a small shoulder. Traverse a short distance to the left (D), and jump down into the chimney between the column and the Mitre. A short D chimney leads to the nek between the column and the main rock mass.

Proceed up diagonally left to a large heather patch. An E traverse on rock to the left leads to a long grass shelf. Halfway along the traverse there is a step-down. Walk along the grass shelf to a shoulder and climb the rather rotten rock of this shoulder. A D grade pitch leads through the next two rock bands. A few paces to the right is a recess in the next rock band. Climb the recess (E) and then scramble up through the final rock bands to the summit.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1954, pg 33.

 

MITRE: North West (Standard) Route (E)

(Map #2 : AC:46 : 3023m)

Opening Party: Brian Godbold, Frank Leland Bybee and party.

Date: July 1938.

Time: 2 hours to the top from the Twins-Bell traverse path.

The route starts on the west side of the huge north ridge of the Mitre. The trick is to find the right gully! When approaching the Mitre along the Bell-Twins path from the Bell side, the gully is identifiable as the first gully that leads all the way to the summit and the last that appears useable. Looking up the correct gully will reveal some 'balancing rocks' on the skyline. Follow this gully all the way up to where it seems to end in rock wall with two large cracks. The one on the left is a difficult chimney that goes nowhere. The one on the right leads up to a tiny knife-edge nek with a good peg. The Ntonjelane Needle is visible just beyond this nek. From the nek, facing the Mitre, climb left and up across very exposed rock (5m E) to reach a grass ledge. Climb easily through a rock band and then scramble up to the summit cones. Bypass the first and smaller cone on the south to reach the larger cone. This provides a tricky boulder problem that is easiest on the south side. On the way back abseiling straight down to the nek avoids having to down-climb some tricky rock bands and also avoids having to reverse the exposed traverse.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1938, pg 66 and photo showing route facing pg 66.

 

TWINS (C+)

(Map #2 : AC:46 : 2899m)

Opening Party: Maurice Sweeny, F E 'Tom' Ellis and a party of seven others.

Date: July 1931.

This involves a scramble up the slope just to the left of Twins Cave. Route finding is obvious and a few minor rock bands need to be negotiated. Despite being called 'Twins' the peak actually has three small summit cones. The most westerly one is the highest and the trickiest.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1931, pg 40.

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