If there’s one thing about hiking Table Mountain that I enjoy more than any other, it’s the diversity. And not just in terms of views or vegetation, but also challenge and mood. Table Mountain routes are very much like people in that they have unique personalities, each with their own idiosyncrasies. No two are alike, even if they happen to be neighbouring routes. Having done all the Table Mountain hiking and scrambles routes – some a few times, others countless times – I can vouch for their uniqueness and diversity. A recent ascent of Kasteels B served as a trenchant reminder of this fact.
The Twelve Apostles, a chain of attractive seaboard peaks and buttresses extending behind the famous tabletop summit of Table Mountain, are topographically part of Table Mountain. Many routes lead up the Apostles, some straightforward, others challenging and requiring a good head for heights as well as route-finding ability. The majority of hikers ascend the Apostles via Kasteelspoort (the Castle’s Portal), the quickest and easiest route up the Apostles. Flanking this broad, open ravine are two buttresses: Kasteels Buttess on the left (facing the mountain) and Postern Buttress on the right. Kasteels B leads up the former, threading through impressive cliffs to gain the frontal ridge, from where it follows the skyline to the summit.
The route involves considerable scrambling on sound rock as well as some exposure to heights. The hiking is varied and engaging throughout. At no point does the way forward appear obvious or straightforward. At the outset, in the bowels of adjacent Valken Ravine’s diminutive but nonetheless imposing amphitheatre, the mood of the route is oppressive, but further up, once on the frontal ridge, the sense of foreboding fades before sheer exhilaration as the topography opens up and takes on a more benign appearance. Stellar scrambling leads to a superb little tea cave, or lunch spot, from where a short scramble lands you on the summit.
With so many Table Mountain hiking routes to choose from, what distinguishes Kasteels B? In my opinion, its greatest attraction lies in the synergy of two attributes: adventure and wilderness. Lots of scrambling combined with some decent exposure to heights account for the adventure, while the route possesses a wild feel throughout not apparent when viewing it from below. For those who want adventure in a wild setting, Kasteels B will delight. The communion with nature, the superb views, the complete absence of people, the wild terrain, the adventure of picking your way up rocky sections – all combine to create a singular experience of Table Mountain.
Hiking Table Mountain meets you on so many levels. There’s something for everyone. The mountain’s diversity is vast, and that’s not even factoring in the views. Kasteels B brings it all together in a single route of moderate difficulty sprinkled with challenging bits. A vintage Table Mountain adventure.
© Hike Table Mountain