Cape Trip day 12: Simonsberg

When I booked my Cape trip, I had considered flying home on the Monday. When I saw the price of tickets for that day, I opted to stay an additional day and have a go at one of the easiest peaks on the 1km prominence list – Simonsberg.

I first noticed Simonsberg as I came into land in Cape Town in November 2020. Upon seeing the mountain, I decided that I had to climb it. I rarely consider a mountain to be genuinely free standing, but Simonsberg clearly is. At 1399m, with roughly 1000m prominence and no subsidiary summits with 200+m prominence – it makes for a striking peak behind Stellenbosch.

The peak is accessed via Tokara Wine Estate. They often turn hikers away in anything but absolutely perfect conditions – no wind, no cloud, no recent rain etc. I have said many times that the biggest challenge in the 1km project will be access, and Simonsberg may well be one of the harder to access peaks on the list.

After filling in the indemnity form, and being surprised that they hadn’t stopped us in misty conditions, Rudi, Flip and I set off for the very short but steep hike.

Flowers were in full bloom, and the trail was easy to follow. A steep trail is generally not an issue – its steep ground without a trail that proves most difficult.

With the clouds around, we weren’t getting much of a view.

Fairly close to the summit in terms distance (but not elevation), we received a call from Tokora Wine Estate. They informed us that they didn’t deem conditions to be safe and we were to get off the mountain immediately. Technically we were on Cape Nature land and they didn’t have authority to revoke access – but we were in the process of climbing the mountain in the mist and thus wouldn’t get a view in any case. We decided not to argue with them and to turn around – we would all have to come back and climb it in better weather in any case.

Descent was quick – we had some decent views of the Drakenstein Mountains on the way down, another range in the area I need to explore.

We made it back to the car without issue – as was expected, seeing as we were walking on a clear trail and later a road. The conditions didn’t really warrant retreat, but such is life.

Having missed Tafelberg and Simonsberg, I had managed to get up 7 out of 9 of the mountains I set out to climb. By no means a terrible haul. That included 5 of the peaks on the 1km prominence list – putting me up to one third of the way there.

Seeing as it was still morning, I decided to head off to a landmark I had planned to visit for years – the Castle of Good Hope. Often cited as the oldest continuously used building in South Africa, it is probably more accurately described as the oldest continuously used western-style building in the country – I imagine any number of kraals are older than it and are still in use.

I’m not going to say much on the visit aside from this: it is in a really dodgy part of town, and the part I enjoyed the most was finding my car was still there when I was done and it hadn’t been broken into. Most of the exhibits have nothing to do with the history of the building, and there wasn’t much of interest to see there. Although I’m not one for museums usually, so it may be more interesting to others.

I moved on to my accommodation for the night. Picked for its proximity to the airport, it actually had a great view of Table Mountain. I went to the local curry shop to buy what I was told would be a really good curry – and it wasn’t the worst, but not in the same league as a KZN curry – and then went to bed for the night.

I headed off to the car rental company early. With the flat tyre from my Skurweberge trip, I had to do an incident report. I was never charged for the tyre repair – which was I happy about. I did point out that the car jack was broken – so I hope whoever got the car next had these issues resolved.

The flight home proved uneventful. However my mother got stuck in severe traffic on the way to pick me up, and thus getting back home proved to be an epic yet again! Nonetheless, I was grateful for her assistance with this. Overall a great trip!

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