Table Mountain hikes take many levels of difficulty and challenge while offering a variety of terrain as well as views. Most people know Table Mountain by its iconic table-like shape, flanked by Devil’s Peak on the left and the slightly lower Lion’s Head on the right. This famous side of the mountain, the north face, overlooks the city center and presents no obvious break through the imposing cliffs that stretch side to side. On closer inspection, a deep gash can be seen slicing into the “Table”. The oldest, quickest and easiest route up the mountain follows this ravine, known as Platteklip Gorge. Other than this ravine, the adjacent faces rises sheer for hundreds of feet, offering little prospect of a hiking route. But one route breaks through these cliffs, ingeniously threading past beetling cliffs and overhangs: Left Face ‘B’. Of the 40-odd Table Mountain hiking routes, Left Face ‘B’ is the only one that tackles the mountain head-on and tops out on the summit without resort to a ravine for easy passage or by skirting around to the less-steep back of the mountain.
Platteklip Gorge splits the front face of Table Mountain into what is known as the Left Face (the part of the front face left of the gorge, about two-thirds the length of the “Table”) and Right Face. The first climbing route that was opened on the Left Face was called, unremarkably, Left Face. Graded D, the first hiking route up the Left Face was subsequently called Left Face ‘B’, after its grade of difficulty and to discern it from its harder neighbour. Also known as ‘Mystery B’, the route offers all the elements that allows you to experience the real Table Mountain. Suitable to those with a sense of adventure and good head for heights, Left Face ‘B’ makes for a great half-day adventure outing, with the distinction of being the only hiking route tackling the formidable front face of the mountain head-on. Topping out smack in the middle of the “Table” is an added bonus: the last few feet involves scrambling up a near-vertical face, which brings you suddenly onto the level terrain of the summit plateau within a few feet, a unique feature of this route and very rewarding.
The route involves rugged terrain (bush / loose rock), scrambling and exposure to heights – none of it severe, but not appreciable to the average hiker. Also remarkable about the route is the sense of wilderness you get despite overlooking a sprawling city. Hiking Table Mountain via Left Face ‘B’ offers a reasonable amount of challenge and adventure with the bonus of conquering the mountain up its most famous side in under 4 hours. For those with a sense of adventure, Table Mountain hiking at its best.