Table Mountain hiking routes: Silvertree Ravine – 11 August 2016

Looking for a Table Mountain hike away from the usual well-trodden routes? How about exploring Silverstream Ravine? Although it starts from the same place as the famous Platteklip Gorge on the northern face of Table Mountain, this delightful route soon enters a shady kloof which feels far from the familiar.

On a recent outing to explore this route, we started up on a warm winter’s morning, and the first section up through the thick fynbos soon had us hot and sweaty. Before long we had to traverse into the ravine to cool down in its shaded depths. The ravine bed is a wild jumble of boulders with plenty of the famous “climber’s friend” bush. Famous for its prickly nature that is! Some interesting scrambling and boulder-hopping led us ever upwards to the head of the ravine. Looking back to the west there were wonderful views of the northern face of Table Mountain, with the Cableway at its tip, and the conical peak of Lion’s Head below.

The ravine closes in and ends in sheer cliffs streaming with sparkling water drops. Mossy rocks, soft grass, and deep shade encourage one to rest a while to take it all in. Strange sound effects occur as the odd city sound is amplified by the cliffs. Only while hiking Table Mountain can one get so close, and yet so far from the hustle-and –bustle of Cape Town.

After soaking in the ambiance we looked for a way ahead. The original route follows a narrow crack up through a steep rock-band, but as there had already been some winter rains, this way was impassable. We opted instead for the spectacular route known as the Silverstream-Ledges Traverse. This takes one around below the imposing cliffs of the far eastern corner of the Table Mountain summit plateau. The views take in Devil’s Peak, Cape Town city bowl, and even as far as the wine-lands of Stellenbosch.

The usual way to reach the summit is via the Ledges route, but this time we chose to climb up an old route known as Saddle Face. Although it is graded as a mere scramble, we were well aware that these old routes were opened by boulder characters than us! In the end we were very glad to have our rope, harnesses and protection gear.

The route tops out on the north-eastern corner of Table Mountain, not far from the highest point at Maclear’s Beacon. From there one can walk across the Table top to the Cableway, or hike down either Platteklip Gorge or Skeleton Gorge. Being intrepid mountaineers however, we opted to scramble down the complex Ledges route. But that’s a story for another time…

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