The temperature in the Berg is rapidly descending as the weeks move on toward winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Climbing to to the top of the Amphitheatre (or Sentinel as was the case this time) was a chilly experience. Still, frozen fingers aside, the weekend workshop was a both exciting and fun for the whole group. Highlights for a number of the photographers was hte slight change in itinerary that had us marching up the Tugela Gorge on Friday (rather than Saturday) and then travelling on foot between Royal Natal and Witsieshoek Lodge via ‘Gudu Falls’ and the ‘The Crack’. The Crack is an amazing fissure on the sandstone rockface below Witsieshoek that allows walkers to summit the lower Berg via chainladders and a narrow gorge. The views at the top are breathtaking as you take in the length of the Northern Drakensberg between the Amphitheatre and Cathkin Peak in the south. A very pleasant walk along the grassy lower berg escarpment then leads to Witieshoek and their wonderful pub, ‘The Usual Place’.
A real highlight for those who summited though was the attack on Sentinel itself. Few walkers make it to the top of this imposing basalt peak as it requires a little more effort than the average trail asks for. Narrow rock bands are negotiated by climbing (relatively low grade, but it feels exhilarating and slightly terrifying due to the drop below), sometimes with the aid of a rope to steady yourself and for security. Fewer photographers have made this climb as most people drop all their equipment at the base of the mountain and spring up as unladen as possible. I would love to say that the view were amazing and the photographs mind-blowing. But we summited in a very cold cloud. The few glimpses we did get were incredible though, making the experience more than worth the hard work we put it, or as Chelsea, one of the photographers said while absailing the last rock band on return, “this is the coolest thing ever”!
click through to read more