Towerkop and the Swartberg Traverse – A Winter’s Tale

Photo by Garrreth Bird

by Garrreth Bird

Towerkop is one of the Western Cape’s iconic peaks. Its twin summits stand at a lofty 2,189 metres and is one of the few peaks that can only be trodden upon if you are prepared to climb the 80-metre-high rock walls that stand as a steep rocky bastion, protecting the peak from all sides. There are no hiking or scrambling routes to the top. It is a wild remote mountain whose twin towers rear ominously above the surrounding peaks and ridges.

About 20 kilometres to the east, lies the highest peak in the Western Cape, Seweweekspoort Peak, a beautiful rugged and convoluted mountain topping out at 2,325 metres. Between these two Western Cape Giants, lies a ridge of high repute and magnitude – arguable one of the best multi-day high level traverses in the country. The Swartberg Traverse crosses the high country between Towerkop and Seweweekspoort Peak, staying around a lofty 2,000 metre mark the whole way.

Garrreth Bird, Julia Bird, Celine Gravenor, Nick Van Doesberg and Claire Curry decide to undertake this traverse including an ascent of Towerkop in the dead of winter, when the peaks and ridges were covered in snow and the wall of Towerkop were encrusted with ice.

Garrreth Bird tells their story in a stunning photo essay.

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