Hiking the India Venster trail up Table Mountain
In another first for 2014 I climbed Table Mountain using the India Venster trail. I have lost count of how many times I have hiked up Table Mountain but I had never been up India Venster until last weekend. The week before I had climbed Lion’s Head with a couple of friends and we all said we should climb Table Mountain again but we all agreed the usual route, up Platteklip Gorge, was boring so I suggested we try something new. India Venster is said to be more technical and not for the novice hiker but we were up for the challenge and so the date was set.
I always advocate an early start when hiking, so you get to climb in the cool of the day and before the suns rays get to harsh. The plan was to meet at half past six at the lower cable station. Well, that was the plan but there was a slight mix up in communication which saw me only waking up at 6:10 not ready to hike. After a slew of messages and slightly desperate phone call from the rest of the group who were already there (because I was the one who supposedly knew the route), I told them to start hiking and I’d catch them up. Well I’ve never gotten dressed and packed a backpack that fast. As I parked at the lower cable station and checked my watch it was 6:50am, I was 20 mins behind. I just had time to check my messages to see that they were on the path and would wait for me at the T junction as I launched onto the rocky stairs that make up the first part of the trail. As I approached the T junction, I recognised a few of the figures in the group and arrived not long after they had gotten their, considerably more out of breath though. They didn’t have much sympathy for me though and as I arrived they all got up and were ready to carry on. The sun had just risen over Devil’s Peak and it was a perfect morning for hiking.
A little further up the trail we were at eye level with the Cable Car as we looked over towards Devil’s Peak with a thin blanket of cloud pouring over the mountain.
One of the great aspects of the India Venster trail is that for most of it you are hiking below the cableway and so every ten or fifteen minutes you can take a break, look up and watch it glide past momentarily forgetting about your aching leg muscles.
For me however, the best part of the India Venster trail though is the rock climbing sections. They break the monotony of hiking along a path. There are a few places where metal rings and chains have been attached to the rocks to help you but it is no more technical or difficult than the chains section of Lion’s Head and the few novices in our group coped with ease.
A little higher up we found ourselves at eye level again with the cable car, this time from the other side having crossed over a gully and with Lion’s Head in the background.
You really get it all on the India Venster trail, with great views of the city the whole way up.
As you approach the top of the mountain the rock faces become increasingly steep and sheer at which point the trail takes you around the side revealing this amazing 180 degree view of the Atlantic Seaboard and this is before you even reach the top of the mountain.
Following the rock face around the side the path does get rather narrow with some vertigo inducing drop-offs to the side (even my camera was struggling to focus).
And just in case you were planning to climb down there was this friendly reminder just as we were approaching the top.
The obligatory group photo at the top, courtesy of a friendly passer-by, followed by a champagne breakfast and all before 9:00am. It may have been my first time hiking up Table Mountain on the India Venster Trail but it certainly won’t be my last. This is definitely my new favourite route and I highly recommend you give it a go.