MHC & MBC Hike
Bannerman's Hut
Giants Castle
uKhahlamba Drakensberg
Central Drakensberg
25 - 26 October 2014

Report & photos courtesy of Dave Sclanders

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

Just 6 months after I experienced a heart attack in Drakensberg mountains at Giants Castle, and had to walk out back to the cars , and eventually to hospital some 8 hours later, I was back at Giants Castle , in the same area where this incident had taken place. 7 of us from Midlands and Backpackers hiking clubs were heading for Bannerman's Hut in Giants Castle Mountain reserve.

2 previous berg hiking week ends had been cancelled due to forecasted bad weather. This week end looked no better , the forecast was heavy rain from midday on Saturday, through the afternoon, and drizzle and cold on Sunday. However, as we had a warm and secure place for the night, we decided to  go . Saturday morning broke clear, and the Giant's Castle   Giant and Castle was clear on our southern horizon. However over the Bannerman's Pass area, there was a hint of  something building up .

We set off at a good pace, and kept it up all the way to the contour path, where we had our first break. Just a quick snack, as I wanted to get settled into the hut before the rain came, there was a constant threat of bad weather on the horizon.

Pic - 2 - The Giant and the Castle
Pic  3  Bannerman's Face outline on the western escarpment
Pic  4 - Uphill all the way
Pic  5 -  Weather building up over Bannerman's
Pic  6  Berg blanketed in cloud. Maybe its time to get some warm kit on ?
Pic  7  Arrived at the contour path junction for a short break. Weather creeping down the mountain behind me.

As we sat enjoying the rest, the weather changed dramatically, to a cold wet wind. We up sticks, and headed to the hut 4,5 kilometers away. The pace was quick, but equally the weather was building. Again, a good pace was taken and, fortunately the rain clouds seemed to stay up a bit higher than us. We pushed on in a tight bunch, and around the corner, Bannerman s Hut came into view. For first time hikers, the hut seems so close, however  to the initiated  the hut is still a good 20  30 minutes away  depending on your legs and fitness at this stage. Looking above the hut, up the Bannerman's Pass valley, the clouds were building again.

Pic  8 - Keep close, walk fast.
Pic  9 -  Just around the corner now ??? !!!
Pic  10 - Bad weather up Bannerman's Pass

Arriving dry, but a bit breathless at the hut, we dropped our packs and immediately went to fetch water. The river was extremely dry, and we eventually found a very small pool with water running into it. The last  water fetcher had just got in , when the heavens opened, Heavy rain, great flashes of lightening and heavy thunder were the setting for the afternoon. No amount of rain gear would have kept us dry had we been caught in the downpour.

Pic  11  Rain , rain , rain
Pic  12 - Then it cleared a bit !
Pic  13 - Time to stretch the legs, Bannerman's starts to clear
Pic  14 - Lovely afternoon colours
Pic  15  Waterfall from the heavy rain up Bannerman's Pass

The rain came back, and we spent the rest of the afternoon chatting around a few candles. At 17h30 some decided to do supper, and have an early night  bed by 19h30.

Pic  16  18 Getting supper
Pic  19 - Sleeping area,

Sunday broke wet and cold, and misty and miserable  some say  THIS IS THE LIFE ????  After a slow breakfast, we packed, and headed back to the cars.

Pic  20  22 looks great out there !!
Pic  23 - Last warm and dry moment before kitting up to leave
Pic  24 - Ready, Steady , GO !!
Pic  25  Don t Drop back !!!
Pic  26 - Don t go to far ahead !
Pic  27 - The flowers had started to come out .

We pushed on at a good pace , and were later we were passed by 2 fitter, younger men who had spent the night in Spare Rib cave, with the idea of going over the top and coming down one of the passes towards Giant's Castle. With the bad weather, they cancelled that plan, and came down a day earlier. By 11h30 and not too far from camp, some were feeling a bit hungry, so we pulled into a sheltered spot, had a quick snack as we were all wet and cold, and pushed on down to the car park

Pic  28- Quick mid morning snack
Pic  29  Giant s camp, hidden in the mist down the valley

Once back at the cars, a change into warm clothes and shoes brought some feeling back into our bodies. As we had to go back to the office to  sign out on the mountain register, we thought that a good cup of hot coffee we be the next best thing. However, the experience was not what we anticipated, and that probably was a low for us for the whole week end.

Thanks to all the team for the great effort in doing a hard walk in a short time. To Katy and Charlie, thanks for your input into the club.

I still cannot fathom out why some hikers, possibly the majority, have such a problem with filling in the Mountain Rescue Register. If things go wrong, this is your ONLY lifeline to be rescued quickly. Yet time and time again, the register is badly filled in. The injured , and family, will always be the first to complain about a slow rescue, YET it is there own fault for not filling in the required information. Yes, stick to your route that is in the register, DON T change routes  Get a life  for your own life s sake.