Skeleton Gorge in winter – 13 May 2013

Skeleton Gorge – once referred to as ‘Skeletal George’ by a German hiker – is a popular and fairly challenging route up Table Mountain. Technically, only the first half (time-wise) of the route leads up Skeleton Gorge, a forested ravine on the lush eastern side of Table Mountain; from the top of the ravine – almost two thirds the way up the mountain, the way to the tabletop summit leads along the Smuts Track to Maclear’s Beacon, highest point on Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula. The route involves a few bits of basic scrambling, straightforward in dry conditions, but treacherous and potentially dangerous in wet conditions – especially in winter, when the ravine is gushing and the rocks are wet and slippery. After heavy rains in winter, Skeleton Gorge becomes almost impassable, with its stream flowing in full spate. The ravine is slow to dry out (only gets shaded morning sun), so for much of the winter the going is tricky – more so directly after rain. Do not think of it as a walk in the park in winter. The scrambles (most of it up a series of wooden ladders) is dangerous in wet conditions if you are unsure of yourself and / or don’t know what you are doing.

Hiking Table Mountain in winter offers one the opportunity to view waterfalls and see its streams cascading down the mountainside, but care should be taken with routes leading up ravines, especially those on the eastern side of the mountain, where the rainfall is three times higher than the northern and western sides.

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