Hiking Table Mountain up the famous front face – 14 December 2014

Table Mountain was first seen and climbed from the front – the north. It forms the iconic profile of the mountain, instantly recognizable, imposing and seemingly impregnable by all but experienced climbers. But despite its formidable façade, hiking routes do lead up those frowning crags, threading ingeniously past vertical sections to the plateau-like summit. Starting on the far left of the “Table”, the first route follows a distinct diagonal ravine – called Silverstream Ravine – and breaks through the topmost cliffs via tricky and exposed scrambling that requires the use of a rope. The next route is called Left Face B, a fun adventure route the average hiker can manage without resorting to a rope. Then comes Platteklip Gorge, the easiest, quickest and oldest route up Table Mountain, but also the least scenic and exciting. It zigzags up a deep ravine, offering no challenge other than the gradient.

To the right of Platteklip is Union Ravine, which does not take you to the summit, but latches onto the adjacent route, India Venster about three-quarters of the way up the mountain via a sensational Cliffside-cave traverse. India Venster is arguably the best half-day hiking route to the tabletop summit of Table Mountain. It leads along a well-defined path and involves a few bits of scrambling with moderate exposure to heights. Near the top, it skirts round to the back of the mountain, where it eventually tops out on the summit plateau. On the right-hand skyline of the mountain can be found Kloof Corner, a delightful but challenging scramble route that latches onto India Venster near the top.

Excepting Platteklip Gorge, these routes all involve scrambling and exposure to heights – some more than others – and requires the expertise of a Table Mountain guide. Although close to the city center, Table Mountain hikes should not be underestimated. Route-finding is more complex than you might suspect, the weather is changeable and the terrain more rugged than what it appears from below. Investing in a guide allows you to safely experience the best hiking Table Mountain has to offer while learning about the environment and mountain. Table Mountain hikes up the front tackles the iconic and impressive face of the mountain, which for many enhances the sense of achievement gained from hiking Table Mountain.

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