Ascension isn’t for everyone…
Hiddingh Ascension that is. One of the lesser known routes up Table Mountain and also one of the most difficult. I had heard about it from a colleague at work and asked him to let me know when he did it again as it is definitely not a route you should even think about attempting unless you go with someone who has done it before.
From the start in Newlands Forest the first trick is finding the turning off the contour path which is only marked by a small rock cairn and a vague path leading up through the trees. It is a steep scramble until you are in the river bed itself which you follow up the ravine.
You continue up the rocky riverbed until the ravine narrows and a large cairn signals where you must turn right and traverse along the bottom of a cliff face. Once around the cliff face you turn up steeply again up a narrow gully where we nearly had a rock fall incident with a large rock barely missing a member of our party further down the path.
Once at the top of this section it opens out on a small rock platform and you get your first view out over the southern suburbs which were still covered by low cloud the day we climbed.
Another traverse to the right and you make you way up Ascension buttress. When you meet the rock face you drop down to the right again into Ascension ravine and you look up a green gully top with sheer cliff faces. At the top of this gully you can take a short detour out to a rock pinnacle called the Pulpit with an incredible view straight down over Newlands.
Making your way back towards the mountain there is just one last rocky scramble to the top and a short walk to join the main Smuts path to Maclears Beacon.
We turned left here and headed south to Skeleton Gorge where we descended
We had started the hike just after 7:00am and only made it back to the Newlands Forest parking lot almost seven hours later. This route is definitely only for fit and experienced hikers and should not be attempted without a guide or someone who knows the route. While it is undoubtedly the most challenging route I have ever taken up Table mountain, it has also been the most rewarding route I have ever taken. While not an everyday route it is definitely one that you should do if you ever get the chance and are up to the task.