The aroma of mountain buchu and wild rosemary on the morning breeze.
A surround-sound symphony of black swifts shrilling, punctuated by occasional interjections from peregrine falcons and white-necked ravens.
And the first rays of the sun painting False Bay in a hundred amber hues …
That’s all part of the deal when you join Mike Wakeford on a dawn-patrol ascent up the eastern face of Elsies Peak. Everything goes, from gnarly traverses and big-exposure ridgeline scrambles, to some of the best trad-climbing routes anywhere on the planet. The crag’s history timelines back to beyond the beginning of the 20th century, with some of South Africa’s most legendary climbers honing their skills upon these heart-stoppingly gorgeous cliffs. And what a privilege to enjoy your morning coffee with a view across “Dream Street Rose” (Grade 28 by Andy De Klerk in 1985), arguably one of the most epic trad climbs on the sub-continent.
You don’t want to attempt any of these Elsies scrambles on your own, though, for a whole host of reasons. Firstly you may waste precious resources in getting Mountain Rescue to come to your aid if you get stuck on a flakey route. More importantly, this is an extremely fragile mountain environment and you don’t want to destroy the delicate ecosystem eking out an existence here upon the edge of the bay. Rather book a solid mountain guide, like Mike, who will enrich your experience a hundred-fold.
To get hold of Mike, go check out www.guidedbymike.co.za.
Text and image used with permission: Jacques Marais https://jacquesmarais.co.za/