Table Mountain hiking consists of a wide variety of routes, some leading along well-defined trails and involving only steps, others scrambling and exposure to heights. Then there are remote routes far off the beaten track that traverses rugged terrain. Hiddingh-Ascension falls into this category, and if you opt for the Ferny Dell variation along its middle sections, you have arguably the most challenging hiking route on Table Mountain. If you have a head for heights, a solid sense of adventure and a good fitness level, then this route will exhilarate you.
Ferny Dell is an isolated patch of indigenous forest through which the route passes. The place seldom sees people, and that’s part of its charm. It’s an enchanting place with a true wilderness feel, pristine and peaceful. You emerge on the other side feeling close to nature and far from civilization. Ropes are used on a few short bits, none of which require climbing experience.
Hiddingh-Ascension leads up the same side of Table Mountain as the well-known Skeleton Gorge, but instead of sneaking up the side of the imposing Table Mountain summit massif, tackles the east side of Table Mountain proper head-on, picking an ingenious line through impenetrable cliffs. Hiking Table Mountain via Ferny Dell will change the way you see the mountain. It’s sure to bring the Indiana Jones out in you and makes for an unsurpassed wilderness experience.
Hiddingh-Ascension is a challenging route, especially via Ferny Dell, and should only be attempted with an experienced mountain guide or someone who knows the route well and can provide safety on steep ground. You need to be up for a challenge and prepared to put up with some discomfort. The rewards, in my opinion, far outweighs the rigors. If you’re adventurous and in good shape, and you prefer the road less traveled, then this route is one of the best Table Mountain hikes.