Photo of the week – April week #2: Porcupine Buttress

View north from the summit of lower Porcupine Buttress.

View north from the summit of lower Porcupine Buttress.

Porcupine Ravine’s claim to fame as the first of the 12 Apostles may be trifling, but not the routes that lead up it, and certainly not the views. Table Mountain hiking is far more than a means of getting to the top: it’s an adventure in itself, and summiting the crowning achievement. Projecting prominently on the lower slopes of the mountain, Porcupine Buttress becomes barely distinguishable further up. It offers 2 scramble routes: Porcupine North Face and Porcupine Anvil. The former is a moderate scramble, the latter a challenging scramble that verges onto rock-climbing in places, necessitating the use of a rope. While neither route takes you to the top of the mountain, the summit of Porcupine Buttress consist of uniquely-sculpted rock and provides superb views in all directions. It’s off-the-beaten track, so you have the wild surroundings and peace all to yourself.

Most Table Mountain hikes involve scrambling to some degree and frequency: some just light / elementary and non-exposed scrambling at one or two places, others – like Porcupine Anvil –┬áregular, tricky and exposed scrambling. The route typifies Table Mountain adventure scrambling, comprising all the elements and terrain in a short route. It starts out boldly up the formidable front of the buttress, leaving the Diagonal route just beyond Porcupine Cave, and works its way up steep terrain to the right-hand skyline beneath a prominent overhang. Here. it sneaks round the corner to the shaded and lush south face of the buttress, where it leads up a craggy cliff on sound rock. A broad ledge containing old yellowwood trees is traversed to a jumble of massive boulders, where an exciting and awkward step-over awaits. Above this, fun scrambling brings you to a wormhole and voila, you’re on the summit of the buttress.

Hiking Table Mountain is not a summit experience (that’s what the cableway gives you), but an experience of nature’s grandeur and beauty, peace and solitude. It’s also an adventure – an opportunity to pit yourself against the mountain’s ramparts and to challenge your fears. Memories are not made on the summit, but in getting there.

(c) www.hiketablemountain.co.za