“I boldly lay down flat and wriggled along the upper shelf of rock until I could drop on to the narrow ledge below. Along this six inch ledge I cautiously went crab-fashion.”
– Extract from an article by Annie Wilson in the 1900 Journal of the Mountain Club of South Africa, describing her climb up the Fountain Ravine Original route, Table Mountain –
In her article, Annie goes on to describe how she slipped and fell shortly after setting out along the lower ledge, swinging gaily into space on a rope tied around her waist. she must have been a tough girl, because Fountain Ravine Original is a tough route – not so much technically, but it’s long and involves difficult terrain.
The route has long since fallen into obscurity; hardly anyone knows of its existence nowadays, let alone make the effort to climb it. I’ve done it twice (probably the only person alive to have done so), and know of only 4 other people alive who has done the route – 3 of them because of my inveigling. There are few people out there who would appreciate or enjoy the route; I can confidently say that it is not for everyone. But as far as hiking Table Mountain goes, it gives one unique insights into the terrain and environment. As a Table Mountain guide, I enjoy Table Mountain in all its moods and facets and I wish to know it intimately. It can be likened to a friend or lover: you want to know all his / her moods and traits and vices. Routes like Fountain Ravine Original may not be an attractive or pleasant way up Table Mountain, but it reveals something of the mountain’s hidden qualities. And thanks to Annie’s antics there more than a century ago, the route has a bit of history, too.
The wide variety of Table Mountain hiking routes, including scrambling routes, means that there is something for everyone, from rank beginner to veteran trekker, from nature lover to adrenalin junkie. Through hiking Table Mountain, you will gain a much greater appreciation of the mountain than a cursory ride up with the cable car.