South Africa –

Posted on January 14th, 2013 by


Olivia DeSutter ‘15

            When I woke up this morning, I knew that we were going to climb Lions Head mountain, but I don’t think that I realized what exactly climbing Lions Head mountain was going to entail.  When looking at the mountain from Cape Town it looks impressive, but it doesn’t look like it should be too difficult to climb to the top.  However, by the end of the hike I realized that although it was much more difficult than I had originally anticipated, the end result was more than worth it, and that we, as a class, had worked together to accomplish something.

We planned on hiking in the morning in an attempt to avoid the worst of the South African sun, so we left the YW around nine this morning.  When we arrived at the trailhead I could already tell that it was going to be a hot day.  The cool breeze that has been pretty much constant since we arrived in Cape Town was unfortunately absent.  The first part of the trail was a dirt path that wound itself up to the rocky part of the mountain.  It was fairly steep, and even though the terrain was easy, it became clear to me pretty early on that hiking Lion’s Head was going to be no simple task.

Once we arrived at the rocky part of the mountain, the terrain became much more difficult.  I’m somewhat afraid of heights and of cliff edges, and we had to hike next to some fairly high drops.  The trail wound around the mountain and we slowly climbed higher and higher.  I could feel the sun getting hotter and was beginning to wish that I had brought more water with me.  We soon reached the most difficult part of the climb.  We had to use metal chains and handles to reach the top of a particularly steep part of the trail.  I remember looking at the chains and handles and being very intimated by the fact that I was going to have to climb up a practically 90 degree wall.  We waited for a few hikers to make their way down the chains, and then we began our ascent.  We all helped each other by telling each other where to place our feet and hands, and we were full of adrenaline when we reached the top.  However, we still had quite a bit of mountain to climb before we were going to reach the top of the mountain.  The rest of the trail consisted of scaling over some very rocky terrain with absolutely no shade.

Reaching the top of the mountain was extremely exhilarating.  We all made it, and we all had to sit down for a few minutes to catch our breath and to enjoy the absolutely spectacular view.  We could see all of Cape Town laid out before our eyes.  We spent quite a bit of time on the top of the mountain taking pictures and taking in the view.

Even though our going down the mountain was faster, it was at times more difficult than our ascent.  When we reached the part of the trail with chains and handles we again helped each other by telling each other where to place our hands and feet, and everybody was ready with encouraging words.

When we reached the bottom of the trail we were all sweaty and exhausted, but we were happy.  We had accomplished something, and we had accomplished it together.  Climbing Lions Head today was such a rewarding experience.  It wasn’t an easy journey, but the reward made it all worthwhile.



  1. Deb Kind (Maren's Mom) says:

    Now that I have posted comments on all of the other blog postings, I better keep going …

    Olivia — Thanks for sharing your experience climbing Lion’s Head. It is fun to read about the adventures of the Gustavus group :-)

  2. Nancy Balfanz, Grace's Mom says:

    Wow that sounds amazing!!! I would have been very scared of the edges…what a cool thing that you accomplished it all together, supporting and encouraging each other. What a wonderful memory that bonds you all together!! Can’t wait to see the photos!