Hiking Table Mountain… and not forgetting Devil’s Peak – 5 April 2014

Devil’s Peak is part of Cape Town’s iconic mountainous backdrop, rising to the left (east) of Table Mountain. Despite its attractive shape, Devil’s Peak receives far less attention than its illustrious parent ‘peak’, Table Mountain. Thanks to Table Mountain’s unique shape, slightly greater stature and renowned cable car, Devil’s Peak stands fairly neglected at its side.

The English were the first to name the peak – Charles’ Mount, after Prince Charles – in 1620. When the Dutch took possession of the Cape in 1652, they named it Windberg (Wind Mountain) due to it being particularly windswept, mainly by the Southeaster. At some point, the Dutch began referring to it as Duiwelspiek (Devil’s Peak), based on a local legend that tells of a smoking contest between a Dutch sailor and the devil, the famous Tablecloth cloud-formation seen as the smoke.

Devil’s Peak might have been more popular among hikers if Table Mountain never got its cable car. But being only 85 meters shy of Table Mountain’s 1086-meter summit, a hike up Devil’s Peak does not offer the luxury of a cable car descent and therefore involves a strenuous descent, a fact that deters a lot of hikers.

Devil’s Peak is not part of the Table Mountain massif, but its prominence together with its pointed peak means that it offers uninterrupted views in all directions and unique angles onto Table Mountain. Several routes lead to the summit, most of them interchangeable, the easiest leading up the western slope from the Saddle, a col that links Devil’s Peak with Table Mountain. Hiking Devil’s Peak is a very different experience than hiking Table Mountain: the views, the terrain and the mood / atmosphere. It may not offer the peace and solitude of, say, the southern Apostles, but somehow seems more steeped in history. The views onto Table Mountain are striking and unusual.

For those with a sense of adventure and a good fitness level, a great route option involves ascending Mowbray Ridge to the summit of Devil’s Peak (via the direct route), then descending to the Saddle (loosing almost half the elevation gained on the ascent) before hiking up Table Mountain via Ledges, a challenging scramble route on the east side of the ‘Table’.

Hiking Table Mountain can be structured to include Devil’s Peak by making use of one of three traverses that contours around the north side of Devil’s Peak at different elevations and leading onto Table Mountain. By including Devil’s Peak, you get a complete experience of Table Mountain and the different moods and terrain that exist on each mountain.

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