Photo of the week – December week #1: far-flung Table Mountain

 Traverse high up on Hairpin Route.

In an earlier blog post (November Week #1 – Quote of the Week: Hiking Table Mountain back in the day), I wrote about the obscurity of Hairpin Route (C-grade) on the Twelve Apostles. I also mentioned that one day I planned to go find it and salvage what early mountaineers considered a fine route. Well, that day dawned on 1 December.

Hairpin Route is not everyone’s cup of tea. Getting to the start involves an arduous trek, long and bushy. And the line of ascent cannot be described as attractive: it waffles up a nondescript part of the southern Apostles, topping out on a featureless slope; there’s no juicy knife-edge ridge to follow, no interesting features like spires and pinnacles to stimulate the senses along the way, no lofty peak to top out on. It seems like the kind of line someone would open for the sole purpose of immortalizing himself through being crowned as the pioneer of a Table Mountain route.

Hairpin Route is what I call a location route: you ascend it for its unique and remote location on the mountain; therein lies its attraction – at least for me. Another attribute of the route worth mentioning is the fact that it follows the line of least resistance up a face. Some routes meander all over the place, looking for a feature or a bit of rock to climb, making it contrived. Hairpin stays true to the intrinsic nature of a route in that it finds the easy breaks up a part of the mountain that would otherwise require technical climbing.

Would I do Hairpin again? Probably not. But first-hand and practical knowledge of the route further enhances my appreciation of Table Mountain. It serves as a window of intimacy with the mountain, and communion with nature.