Photo of the week – September week #1: Grotto-Fountain-Cairn Traverse

Just north of Fountain Ravine.

Just north of Fountain Ravine.

 

Table Mountain hiking comprises vastly different types of terrain, from rock-steps up a gentle slope to narrow ledges on the side of a cliff. The Grotto-Fountain-Cairn Traverse is an example of the latter, and a good one at that. It’s the longest and arguably most sensational walking traverse on Table Mountain, stretching from Grotto Ravine across Fountain Ravine to the head of Cairn Ravine, picking a precarious line across seemingly impassable terrain reserved for rock-climbers. No climbing experience is required, just a steady head for heights and a solid sense of adventure. The traverse spans the forbidding sidewalls of upper Fountain Ravine along with a blank expanse of rock known as Grotto Wall, providing ample adventure and exhilaration. The traverse is approached via Grotto Ravine, sometimes Blinkwater Ravine at the level of Blinkwater Gully and finishes against the upper south side of Kloof Corner Ridge, from where tricky and exposed scrambling takes you to Fountain Ledge and the latter portion of the India Venster route. Both the approach and scramble-out should not be underestimated. As with many Table Mountain hikes, route-finding plays a crucial role in safely negotiating the traverse as a whole. This is not a route for those intent on getting to the summit as quick and easy as possible, but for those adventurous souls wanting to experience the wild side of Table Mountain. A rope is recommended on at least two of the scrambles.

Hiking Table Mountain up a more unconventional route allows you to experience the essence of the mountain while providing adventure and challenge. These routes require a thorough knowledge of the mountain and it inherent dangers, so consider making use of a Table Mountain guide. Routes like the Grotto-Fountain-Cairn Traverse effectively dispel the popular notion that Table Mountain is tame due to its proximity to a city and the presence of a cableway.

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