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Hiddingh Ascension

Above Newlands Forest, starting on the Newlands Contour Path.

Overview: A classic route starting up Hiddingh Ravine, traversing out onto Hiddingh Buttress and a finish up Ascension Ravine. Very exposed in places, and entails navigating eroded gully that needs to climbed with care.  Small party advised. Be sure to visit the Pulpit!

Key Statistics
Grade:  4 **** Exposed with loose rock
Height gain:  990m: from 90m to 1080m
Time:  6 hrs up, 2 down depending on route

Route Description:
Approach the route via the contour path above Newlands Forest Station. Walking along the contour path in the direction of Kirtenbosch you will encounter a gully which has a rock with the name Ascension Gully graffitied on it, pass this ravine. The next ravine is Ascension Ravine, which also needs to be passed. The route starts just after the next ravine, which is Hiddingh Ravine. 

The original start still mentioned in guidebooks was to go beyond the ravine and around the corner to then ascend an easy slope in the trees until possible to cross into the ravine. This is now blocked by rockfall (March 2019). An alternate up the slope on the right side of the ravine is now also currently blocked by debris from a rockfall, so
 start in Hiddingh Ravine's watercourse and higher up stay close to the right hand rock face and follow cairns (beacons). Continue on the right side of the ravine bed for another 10 to 15 minutes until it seems like the path ends and the ravine becomes impossibly steep. At this point (an elevation of about 540m) the route traverses out to the right on a ledge with beautiful rock overhangs.

The traverse keeps close to the rock face, which will be on your left hand side as you traverse . At the corner of the buttress on your left you'll see a small subsidiary wooded gully (cairn). The route continues up this gully. The lower section has an easy scramble or two. The upper section of the gully is severely eroded, with loose rocks, and should be done with extreme caution. At the top of the gully (elevation of about 645m) there is a lovely rock platform with great views. Here the route splits - the path continuing straight up leads to Ferny Gully (also called Ferny Dell), this variation is not recommended. The recommend route traverses to the right onto a steep grassy terrace, which will bring you to the crest of the buttress, where Devil's Peak comes into view (marked with a cairn). From here you should scramble up the boulders leading along the crest of the buttress. Continue along the crest until you reach the foot of a high cliff, from here go right into Ascension Ravine.

This part of Ascension Ravine is mostly a stone scree with short leafy bushes penetrating the rocks. Ascend the scree, keeping an eye out for a path on your left that leads onto the narrow terrace with the Pulpit. This is a worthy detour if you aren't pressed for time. Continue up the scree / ravine until almost under the overhanging cliff face at the head of the ravine, at which point you can't go any further. Traverse out to the left onto the grassy terrace for about forty meters where you will find a break on your right (marked with a cairn). Climb this pitch, which has a slightly awkward step, onto the narrow ledge just above it. From the small ledge scramble left and up until you reach a needle with a narrow crack on the right side, climb this crack and another easy section to the top.

From the top a path leads you to the Smuts Track, close to Mclear's Beacon. Carrel's Ledge is also normally done after the route, as it is close to the summit point.

Picture of Hiddingh ravine watercourse where route can be started off the Newlands contour path.

NB the GPX file below can be used to upload to your GPS. It was supplied by Leon de Wit.

The most common (and recommended) descent is Skeleton Gorge or the Cable Car (need to shuffle cars). Descending Ledges to the Saddle and then Newlands Ravine is the quickest, but definitely not the easiest.

Hiddingh Ascension.gpx
Mountain Meanders,
Nov 3, 2020, 6:57 AM