India Venster – 26 April 2013

India Venster is arguably the best half-day route to the summit (‘Table’) of Table Mountain, but not the easiest. The route involves intermediate scrambling (easy climbing) and exposure to heights about 15% of the way, so in order to enjoy it, you need a fairly good head for heights and a sense of adventure. Hiking up Table Mountain via India Venster is challenging not only because of the exposure to heights and the scrambling, but also route-finding: many paths in the area are used only by rock-climbers (to gain the foot of a cliff), so it’s easy to stray. The scrambling is not difficult if attended by an experienced Table Mountain guide, and does well in adding spice to the route in that it provides excitement and stimulation. The route leads up the dramatic north side of the mountain for most of the way, more or less in line with the cables of the cable car, traversing around to the west and eventually the south side of the mountain, where it tops out. In the more or less three and a half hours it takes to ascend, the hiker covers a lot of mountainside.

India Venster has seen its share of accidents over the years, giving it a bad name. If you know what you’re doing, then it’s a brilliant route; if you don’t, stay off it. If you don’t know it well, or you’re not great with heights (but up for a challenge), best you go with an experienced Table Mountain guide. The route is not to be trifled with.

How do you know the route is for you? If you’re doing it for the first time (or second or even third), go with a mountain-guide / someone who knows the route and the mountain. If you are terrified of heights, don’t bother; if you are nervous of heights, but you are up for a challenge / have a sense of adventure, then you will enjoy it; if you have no problem with heights, then you hardly even need a sense of adventure in order to enjoy it.

As far as Table Mountain hiking goes, the route ticks a lot of boxes: not too long and rambling; tackles the mountain head-on, taking in its most dramatic sides; stable and clear trail for much of the way; takes in 3 sides of the mountain; offers a moderate level of adventure; offers varied hiking and dramatic rock-formations; tops out near the upper cable station; gives a good representation of what hiking on Table Mountain is all about.

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