Photo of the week – May week #3: Table Mountain hiking via Kloof Corner

On the middle sections near The Portal.

On the middle sections near The Portal.

Of all the many features on Table Mountain, Kloof Corner Ridge must rank as one of the most prominent. It marks the great northwest corner of the mountain, where its famous northern slopes abruptly turns to face westward. Comprising three nouns – kloof (‘valley’ or ‘ravine’ in Afrikaans, corner and ridge – the route picks a line just left of the crest along the lower half before latching onto the crest along the top half. A variation known as Kloof Corner Pinnacle strictly adheres to the ridge throughout, adding trickier and more scrambling as well as more exposure to heights. Its location on a ridge allows 270 degrees views, offering both sea and city views at the same time – rarely the case with Table Mountain hikes. At the base of the topmost cliffs, at the northern end of Fountain Ledge, the route merges with India Venster, along which the summit is gained.

Chains will be found at three points: the first pitch off the Contour Path, the crack pitch at ‘Die Poort’ and inside the Eleven-inch Crack. The first and second chain is awkward and strenuous – not to be underestimated – and the top chain exposed. A rope should be used at all the chains. Lots of variation possible on the lower sections, where a few tricky scrambles can be bypassed on the left. The route enjoyed great popularity in the early 1900s, when there were far less routes to choose from and when the ridge served as an irresistible feature to early mountaineers’ penchant for climbing conspicuous features. Because of its severity as a Table Mountain hiking route, Kloof Corner seldom sees hikers, usually done only by Table Mountain stalwarts, the adventurous members of some hiking clubs and the Mountain Club of South Africa.

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