Celebrating his birthday with a hike up
the iconic Lion’s Head.
I got an email from Rodrigo on Saturday morning. He found my details on one of the flyers on display at the lodge where he was staying in Cape Town and was keen to do either Platteklip Gorge on Table Mountain or go for the less strengeous hike up Lions Head. Rodrigo comes from Salamanca which is a small town situated approximately 200 kilometres west of the Spanish capital Madrid. He chose to do Lions Head and at the time I wasn’t to know that it would be his birthday on Sunday so having decided to take him up Fresnaye Crack would make his day pretty special as he loves the outdoors and is a keen hiker.
By the time we got to the boom on Lion’s Head there were already a long string of parked cars but we were lucky as a gap became available for us to park just as we arrived.
We started off just before 8am and headed in the direction of Signal Hill towards the Kramat. The narrow single trail winds to the left where the two canons are situated.
I did some investigating and information received from the Cannon Association of SA after I emailed them was that they are English 6 pounder guns cast by Gordon Stanley & Co in about 1770. They have the crest of King George III and the Master of the Ordnance on them.
During Dutch times there were two guns somewhere in that area which were used to relay signals from Lions Head to the Castle when a ship was sighted.
The original guns were removed at some time late in the 1800’s and nobody knew where they went.
Two rusted guns were located behind the Sea Point Town Hall in 1957 and these were assumed to be the guns that were against Lions Head. The Council moved the guns to their present site and built the terrace and carriages for them.
We stopped here for a few pictures then continued with the single track which goes up towards the steep slopes on the north face of Lions Head. The Fresnaye Crack route is mainly a winding rocky path, but there are several relatively easy scrambles on the route involving climbing with hands as well as feet. There is little exposure to heights on the route and certainly nothing that should be a problem for the average person. This route is really for those who would like to take advantage of a relatively easy but extremely rewarding climb, but who would also like to avoid the crowds on the normal tourist route. It is especially nice to do on full moon days when the normal route becomes unpleasantly congested.
We followed the normal tourist route for the first part of the ascent, but soon scrambled up the slope to the lower rock bands where two lovely traverses and a few easy scrambles took us all the way to the top where we were greeted by masses of people. Most people can do this route, although you shouldn’t be totally unfit. The elevation gain is 387m. We had the route to ourselves which was great.
After spending about 20 minutes on the top of Lions Head we headed down the staples and chains and visited Wally’s Cave which never fails to offer some great photo opportunites. From here we took the steep, loose stone single track which goes through the Silver Leaf trees and joins up with the jeep track that is part of the popular spiral route to the summit that can become congested and unpleasant.
Our whole journey took just under 3 hours. The weather was perfect for hiking, not too hot and no wind at all.