Almost… Today I tried to climb Platteklip (flat stone) Gorge to the top of Table Mountain. A friend, Binny Ridgway, invited me to come along as she took a client up the gorge. Binny is a professional hiker and trail guide whom I met about a month ago. She and her husband have hiked the mountain for years and she has a business – Ridgeway Ramblers – leading Cape Town locals and visiting tourists on hikes and adventures all over the Cape.
This morning I met Binny and her client (Rebecca, a young Canadian college student) near the lower cableway station. We proceeded up Tafelberg Road and parked near the Platteklip Gorge trailhead. The trail to the top is basically a rock-filled sandstone gully. The route is very steep but popular and we met other hikers along the way. Winter is a good time to climb the gorge. In the summer the trail gets very hot, especially in the morning. As we started the climb Binny advised us that we had to climb back down Platteklip. Due to high winds they decided to close the cableway for the day.
The trail was a relentless succession of rock steps zigzagging all the way up. During the climb we saw beautiful sweet pea bushes, geraniums, and other wild flowers and looked for dassies (Rock Hyrax), raptors, and popular birds like the sunbird. Much to my horror as we continued our climb the winds got stronger – at times it felt like you would be blown off the trail. The higher we got the more intense the winds became and of course the colder the temperature. Some people in front of us were turning back and many on their way down commented about the pounding wind waiting at the top.
With much disappointment over three-quarters of the way up the gorge I decided it was best to turn back. The wind was too much for me. Binny and Rebecca continued to the top. I had no trouble climbing down the rocky gully but there were challenging steep areas along the way. The winds seemed to get calmer as I descended and then picked up again near the bottom. On the way down I saw a bare-footed man heading up the rocky gully!
Even though I didn’t make it to the top it was an enjoyable climb. In hindsight I probably could have continued but the wind was scary… No doubt I will climb Platteklip Gorge again – avoiding windy days. Unfortunately conditions change quickly so you really never know exactly what to expect. Humbled I still enjoyed the time spent climbing Table Mountain – a magnificent and magic place!