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Sentinel SE Ridge

Location: Hout Bay. This is a short but spectacular route following a direct line on clean rock up the SE corner of the Sentinel. Strictly speaking this has two peaks, with the lower on the Hout Bay side called Sentinel and the main, higher peak, Hangberg, but common usage is to call both Sentinel.

Overview: The SE side of Sentinel is split by a prominent ravine, visible from as far as Noordhoek Peak.  The scrambling starts at the bottom right hand edge of this ravine, moving to the right as it ascends to the knife edge between Sentinel and Hangberg. Two finishes are possible: the one straight up Hangberg and the other, easier option, goes to the right around this steep exposed section. A rope is advised on the direct finish and possibly even on some of the lower pitches if the party is not comfortable on exposed rock. 

Key Statistics
Grade:  4 ****  The top pitch can be bypassed to make this a grade 3
Height gain:  250mfrom 80m to 332m (Sandy Place) or 330m from Snoekies
Time:  2 hrs up, 1 down 

Route Description:
There are two possible approaches: from Snoekies (or Fish-on-the Rocks) in the harbour; or from Sandy Place off Bayview Rd. While the start from the harbour gives a more direct line, the beginning is unpleasant up a steep eroded bank and past the squatter camp.  It may also have some security risks because of the unrest in the area in 2010/2011 and requires leaving cars at both ends (or walking back down through the Hangberg houses). 

From the parking in Sandy Place (see the Google map for the location) follow the path down a short bank and skirt the houses at the top of Karbonkelberg Road.  Beware of the dogs! After passing the houses, continue up a sandy bank and through a ditch. Shortly after crossing the ditch take a cross country line following a shallow ascending left diagonal, aiming for some low rock bands.  Don't go too high as it becomes bushy.  When the ground levels out on a shelf, keep on this level and traverse towards the skyline for 500m, dropping slightly to avoid the bush higher up.  Continue traversing until the ridge overlooking the sea is reached, aiming to meet it where the rock starts. 

A fun alternative is to continue the diagonal ascent and head for some large blocks situated higher up the slope directly below the knife edge - see picture.  These blocks provide some interesting scrambling up and over and out the other side, meeting up with the alternative route on the ridge at the point where the ravine starts. Although a bit more bush, there is nothing too bad and most can be skirted. See the pictures in the slide show. 
Once the ridge is reached, follow it to the base of the prominent ravine that splits Sentinel in two. The route then goes up through the rock bands to the right of the ravine in a series of 3-10m steps and a 7m chimney. There are a number of options, with the more difficult to the left and easier (but bushier) alternatives to the right. Sticking to pleasant, clean pitches provides the best route.  (It is well cairned.)  

The knife edge makes a pleasant spot for a water break and to admire the view down to the sea, watching the Seal Island cruise boats sail past under one's feet. 

From the knife edge continue on up the ridge on easy rock until a steep face is met. There are two options from here: 

By far the most exciting is straight up. It is not as intimidating as it looks but is very exposed. Near the top one traverses out to the sea edge, standing on small footholds with a 300m drop below.  Definitely not for agoraphobics! Once on the platform (shown on the photo where the black and yellow dotted lines meet), one can go straight up but there is some loose rock, so better to go right onto a small platform and then left back into the gully - as shown by the yellow dotted line. 
Note: the dotted lines showing the route can be hard to see on a smartphone -  just zoom in and they will be clear.

The alternative is easier and less exposed but does involve a bit of bundu bashing to get around the corner under the overhang.  Once round the corner follow a crack and gully to the top.  The return is via the normal path that runs from the top down to the nek between Sentinel and Karbonkelberg.

Resources: Route description (pdf), map, GPS track, Google Earth detail of start (The map and GE detail are included in the RD)

Opening: The route was first explored on a U3A meet on 20 July 2008 by Arthur Clarke, Peggy de Kock, Tony Heher (leader), Kathleen Holtzhausen, Lucille Krige, Martyn Trainor and Elizabeth Trew, doing the alternate finish. 

The direct finish was done on 1 June 2010 by Peggy de Kock, Margie Growse, Tony Heher (leader), Roger Hendry, Kathleen Holtzhausen, Martyn Trainor, Elizabeth Trew and Marge Vermaak. Photographs thanks to Martyn Trainor. No cairns were found indicating that the route had been done before, but of course it is always possible!  Comments welcome...