Pretty average, pretty ugly, pretty useless, pretty neat, pretty stupid, pretty tough, pretty easy and so on. It's a long list and most of us are guilty of using this word incorrectly at least once or twice a day. Used in that format the word becomes meaningless. So there is your challenge for the week. Use 'pretty' to describe something that is attractive. So what on earth has this got to do with mountain passes?
Well a few weeks ago we filmed a really pretty pass that forms part of that great gravel road (the P1482) between the Nuwerus farm and Mount Ceder. Not to be trifled with, this pass has many very sharp corners (particularly on the southern side) and gets extremely steep near the summit with gradients at 1:5 - which is pretty steep.
We've towed a couple of FWD cars up there over the years that just couldn't make it up the slippery inclines after rain. The summit has the bizarre name of Hondverbrand and no-one seems to be able to come up with a reasonable explanation for the name. At the summit one gets treated to dramatic views of the road snaking its way down the valley and up towards the next neck. It's a view that's impossible to get tired of - the Cederberg at it's finest.
We're talking of course, about the Grootrivierhoogte Pass which climbs 510 vertical metres over roughly 5 kms then descends almost as much down the other side. Did you know that this pass is also sometimes called the Varkkloof Pass? Many people enjoy this road and in particular it's a perennial favourite with the adventure biker set. You won't drive this road on a weekend without coming across motorcyclists, such is its popularity.
We have just produced a brand new double video set on this lovely pass and invite you to explore it with us today. From farm fresh olives to citrus orchards - from San rock art to fresh water angling - from horse riding to hiking trails - its all there waiting to be enjoyed. Winter in the Cederberg is simply the best!
The MPSA Route Planner
The top selling item in our online shop is our route planning spreadsheet (designed and maintained by Mike Leicester). It can be used offline or online and offers all the vital information you will need to know on any pass - a perfect travel companion when you need information at the touch of a button.
This includes the pass name, any alternative names, the province it's in, distance to and nearest town, vehicle type suited to, road surface, altitude variance, maximum altitude, length, GPS coordinates of start, summit and end plus a hyperlink to the pass page on the MPSA website (providing you are online). Also available on the spreadsheet if you're online is an interactive, zoomable map showing where each pass is.
The spreadsheet is a powerful planning tool and if you know the basics of spreadsheets, you can group the passes by province or by any of the columns available. It's also a neat way to mark off the passes you have already travelled by adding a colour or mark. It can be purchased for R195 and is yours for life via this link: https://shop.mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/product-category/digital-download/
Spoil a friend
You can surprise a friend or family member with a 1 year gift subscription to the MPSA website which is delivered digitally. Gift vouchers (R250) can be purchased here: https://shop.mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/product-category/gift-vouchers/ and we'll do the rest (and you can add a personalised message!)
Every Monday we do a radio interview. Subscribers can listen to the podcasts a day later on the link below. We usually discuss the pass that is featured for the week and the talks last 10 to 15 minutes. It's a great way to catch up on the latest news and other interesting snippets not mentioned in our newsletter. The podcasts are listed from newest to oldest.
Pretty cool huh?
And that's pretty much it for this week! Be strong.....
* * * * * G R O O T R I V I E R H O O G T E P A S S * * * * *
Next week: We're back in Mpumalanga to drive one of the best gravel roads in that province.
Thought for the day: "There is no such thing as a failed experiment. Only experiments with unexpected outcomes." ~ Richard B. Fuller