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Noordhoek Minor

Location: The buttress to the north of Noordhoek Peak, Silvermine (see Blackburn Major for an overview of the ridge)

A short fun route up the buttress with stupendous views over Hout Bay and Noordhoek. The best route has an exposed grade 5 rock step that should be done with a rope (unless the party is very experienced), but there is an alternative grade 3 escape route. Being on the south side of the buttress, the route is cool and should be avoided in winter as it gets wet. The finish up the ridge is a very pleasant, but exposed, grade 4.
NB: A climber fell and died on this route on 2 Feb 2017 - see comments below.

Key Statistics
Grade:  5 (or 3) **** 
Tricky rock step (5) which can be bypassed (3)
Height gain:  600mfrom 460m to 700m, then back down to 360m and back up to 700m!
Time:  4-5 hours up, 1-2 down

Route Description:
Alternate starts: There are a number different ways to approach the route and it can be included in a variety of "mix-and-match" options e.g. from Chapman's Peak Drive, from East Fort and along the contour path, down Blackburn Ravine and along the contour path, etc.  This description is based on a start at Silvermine dam. 

From Silvermine Dam, take the path up to Noordhoek Peak. Shortly before the peak, take the path that leads down towards Chapman’s Peak. Follow this down to 420m, about 500m before the junction with the Chapman’s to Blackburn contour path.  The path levels out across a small vlakte at this point. (There are some cairns just off the main path.)

Take off cross country (at map ref NH01) going down the left side of a small water course, cross the water course near the bottom and rejoin the contour path about 100m further on.  There are cairns all the way. Take the contour path north for 600m, passing the turnoff for Noordhoek West ridge route (NH02) after 300m (look carefully, it’s hard to spot.)

The turnoff from the contour path (NH03) is about 100m after crossing a water course that comes down from between Noordhoek Peak and Noordhoek Minor. It is up through the first obvious break in a small rock band after crossing the gully. Follow the ridge up to a small 3m rockband with several small caves along it. This is about 2 hours from the start and makes a good tea spot. 

Continue left along the base of this band to an obvious break, and continue up to the next major rock band – about 300m up at the 560m level. Skirt this rockband to the left and find an obvious break through the band using a small chimney. Continue on up towards the main face of the buttress, bearing left and then up. 

The buttress is marked by a prominent pinnacle at the end of the ridge.  The ledge and traverse that is being aimed for is higher up and not easily visible until one has climbed higher and up to the right skirting the base of the buttress. This is a decision point: either go left along the ledge, or skirt the buttress to the right until an obvious gully appears on the left which leads to the top. An even easier (but boring!) option is to continue straight on up the broad open gully to the Panorama path.

The ledge ends at a steep step that looks unclimbable from a distance, but in fact has some key footholds which makes it an easy Grade 5. The move up the rock step is however very exposed and the use of a rope is advised (See the note below for the tragic consequences of free climbing this section). Shortly after the step, go up diagonally right on good rock (instead of continuing straight) to avoid the loose gully and then traverse left to the nek.  This broken ground is easy (grade 3) but exposed and needs to be climbed with care as there is some loose rock.

From the nek, climb straight up the exposed, steep ridge on clean rock with good grips (grade 4). There is an alternative escape route off to the left at this point if anyone does not like the ridge.  The ridge eases off after 20-30m and continues on pleasant, easy scrambling to the summit. The final 5m onto the summit is a bit more of a challenge,  but worth doing. (There is an escape to the left.)  The summit is actually a small stand-alone pinnacle in front of the main ridge, so scramble down the other side and up to the main ridge where the Panorama path is met.

The obvious return route is south back down the Panorama path, but one could also go north along the Panorama path to Blackburn Ravine and return on the other side of the Silvermine valley. But there many other options especially if using one of the alternate starts.

Opening party: 17 Nov 2009, (left to right) Tony Heher, Liz Trew, Peggy de Kok, Kathy Holtshausen, Moiragh Girdwood, Lucille Krige, Barbara Clark & Martyn Trainor (not in pic). This is the "regular" U3A CMCA (Cape Mountains for the Curious and Adventurous) group.

The opening story: on the 20 Oct 2009, a U3A CMCA meet explored up the ridge. Not having any ropes with us, we exited on the escape route instead, but intrigued by the possibilities, returned a month later to complete it. No cairns were found and all indications are that this is a new route. 
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Martyn Trainor for many of the pictures. It took four meets to get all the pictures that were needed! Thanks also to the intrepid CMCA band for joining the explorations.
The key ledge leading to the rock step and from there to the small nek 
 The ledge leading to the rock step – and from there up to the small nek (just out of picture

 2nd ascent: MCSA meet 22 Mar 2012

(From left to right) Richard Ferguson (who lead from the RD - so it does work!), Viv Marais, Thordis Sixt, Norman Cooper, Eric Harley, Rolf Spaeth, Moiragh Girdwood, Dennis Lange, Heleen Du Toit, Jeanne Myburgh and Tony Heher (not in pic).

  • A delightful old-style trad route with a beneficial dose of fitness maintenance ascent - very worthy of a repeat
  • What a stunning awesome daring astounding exciting beautiful best worlds view climb...   I enjoyed every second of it
  • I think I would find the way, after having done it once and using the RD, but I would not have felt comfortable without the security of the rope. The rest was a bit of a challenge, but good fun

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