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Fixtures - Introduction

Click here for the full Fixture List

Not sure which hike matches your capability? Choose your Grade!

Every hike the club is putting on will be graded in the fixture, so you can predict how strenuous it may/may not be - Use the grades below to help give you an idea:

  • Grade 1 - Very easy (e.g half-day walks)
  • Grade 2 - Easy (e.g. half / full day walks)
  • Grade 3 - Moderate (physical fitness advisable; e.g. full day walks and moderate backpacking trips)
  • Grade 4 - Strenuous (physical fitness essential; e.g. longer backpacking trips)
  • Grade 5 - Very strenuous (requires a high degree of fitness; e.g. backpacking expeditions)

Read the fixture list carefully because sometimes a backpacking trip will span more than one night and there may be some special prerequisites (e.g. tent, valid passport or a head for heights).  For more information on Caves and Huts have a look at the Cave and Hut Database
When you contact leaders to book on their hikes, you should expect to be questioned about your level of fitness and the quality of your backpacking equipment if you are not well known to them.  They will provide more detail concerning the level of difficulty and the required equipment, and it is up to them to decide whether you can participate or not.  Our leaders often find that members new to backpacking over-estimate their fitness by failing to consider other factors such as the effects of high altitude (in the Berg), the weight and initial discomfort of their backpack, the dissimilar exercise, etc.  We want you to enjoy your hiking, but taking on something too difficult too soon can be very discouraging.  Rather assess yourself by starting off with easier hikes and progressing towards harder ones as you become fitter, more comfortable and more experienced.


When you phone to book on a hike, leave a message if the leader cannot be reached on your first attempt.  He / she will get back to you as soon as possible.  Once you have been accepted, treat it as a commitment because withdrawing affects transport arrangements and denies other members the chance to participate.  Arrangements are usually finalised by the Wednesday before a weekend hike, so do not try to book on a weekend hike later than Wednesday.  Ideally you should book at least one to two weeks before the event.


It is seldom necessary for there to be more than two or three phone calls to book on a hike and finalise transport arrangements.  The leader may ask you to contact the person you will be getting a lift with so that you can arrange a pick-up point, get directions and discuss transport costs and other arrangements.  Your lift may plan to stop at a restaurant on the way home, and you will need to take extra money for this.


For most hikes there is also an entry and / or overnight fee.  The leader will advise you of these costs and occasionally may require payment in advance.

Transport

One of the benefits of belonging to the Club is that you can share the cost of transport.  Please note the following:

  1. You are expected to contribute your portion of the fuel cost, which will be determined either by sharing the cost of filling the vehicle up again on your return, or by calculation based on the distance travelled, the average fuel consumption and the total number of people in the vehicle.  The driver will usually give you some idea of what the cost will be, and will advise you if this will be different for you based on where you are meeting your lift.
  2. It is imperative that you contact the driver in advance to discuss arrangements, costs and directions to the rendezvous point.  If you live somewhere en-route, the driver will probably collect you from your home, but if you are more out of the way you will need to meet at an agreed rendezvous.
  3. You must expect to be dropped off after the hike at the same place you were collected unless you make prior arrangements with the driver.  Never expect to be driven back to your home if you live many kilometres from your original collection point; organise this additional transport yourself.
  4. If the driver lives up-route, you will probably need to get yourself to his / her home.  If you need to leave your vehicle there, check parking and security with the driver in advance and if you are not happy with these, make other arrangements.
  5. You are expected to reciprocate and provide lifts for other members yourself from time to time assuming you have your own vehicle.
  6. Vehicles are expensive items and you should treat other people’s with the greatest respect.  Take care not to scratch paintwork or damage upholstery with buckles, walking poles or other equipment.  If you damage another member’s vehicle you should be prepared to pay for the repairs.
  7. Road damage and mechanical repairs – including punctures – are risks of vehicle ownership and passengers should not be expected to assist with these unforeseen expenses.
  8. The Club will not be held liable in the event of an accident, damage or theft.  You share transport at your own risk.
  9. It is usually best to keep your mattress, tent, walking poles, hiking boots and other bulky items separate from your backpack to simplify packing them into the vehicle.  Ensure that all buckles are done up to avoid scratching paintwork or getting them entangled with other equipment.
  10. Bring a clean set of clothes to leave in the vehicle so that you can change into these at the end of the hike.  A towel and bar of soap are also useful for cleaning up, especially if you plan to stop at a restaurant on the way home.

Equipment Hire

Another benefit of belonging to the Club is that you can hire Club equipment while you save to buy your own.  Please note that:

  • Equipment can only be hired by Club members, and can only be used on official Club hikes – i.e. hikes appearing in the Club’s Fixture List.
  • A member may hire equipment on behalf of non-members participating in official Club activities, but the member will be held accountable for paying the hiring fees and returning the equipment in good condition.
  • The cash deposit must be paid when you collect the items, and you will be charged per day that they are used on the official Club activity.  You will also be allowed three days in which to clean, dry and return the equipment.  If it is not returned within this period, you will be charged at the normal rate for each day thereafter.
  • Items must be checked (e.g. count pegs and poles) and cleaned (e.g. wash sleeping bag liner) before they are returned.
  • It is one of the conditions of hire that you will be required to pay the replacement cost of lost, stolen or irreparably damaged items.
  • Tents, sleeping bags, etc. are to be hung out and shaken before returning them. If it has rained over the weekend, hang items out to dry as soon as possible after your hike so they do not get damaged by mildew.
  • Obviously the more effort you make to keep items clean during the hike, the less cleaning you will have to do afterwards.  Mud, dust and ash can be removed from backpacks and tents with a damp cloth.  Do not use detergents as these can damage the waterproofing.  Grass and other debris can be removed from the inner tent by turning it inside-out and gently shaking it.  Ground sheets must be hosed down and cleaned with a cloth or soft nail-brush.

Hiring Fees

Item Deposit Daily Fee
Tent R100 R20
Backpack R100 R20
Sleeping Bag + Liner R50 R10
Gas Stove (provide your own cylinder) R50 R10
Fleece Jacket R50 R10
Mattress R25 R5
Groundsheet R25 R5
Poncho R25 R5

Contact Tanya Hall 082 4147482 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to hire any of the above items.

What to bring?

Most of the items listed here should be carried by each hiker, although certain items (e.g. tent, stove, pots, lamp and spade) can be shared with a hike buddy. A hiking compass or GPS is usually carried only by the leader, but you might want to get one yourself so you can develop your own navigation skills.  A leader is entitled to inspect equipment before departure to determine if it is appropriate for the hike to be undertaken and for the expected weather conditions.

Backpacking Equipment

Backpacking equipment is very expensive and you will probably need to purchase your own over a long period of time.  Buy the best you can afford, because being warm and comfortable makes a big difference when you are out in the elements.  Your priorities should be a comfortable pair of boots, an appropriate, good-quality backpack, a warm sleeping bag and a fully waterproof rain jacket.  Seek advice from experienced Club members rather than shop sales people.  Members have had personal experience with equipment, whereas most sales people have not!

  • Comfortable backpack (full, padded hip belt of correct size)
  • Hiking boots (must have full ankle support)
  • Sleeping bag (hollow fibre or down for winter, preferably with a cowl top)
  • Hiking stove (gas is simplest and safest)
  • Stove fuel (e.g. puncture / twist / screw-type gas cylinder)
  • Gas lighter (matches are not very practical and can be a litter problem)
  • Pots or billies for cooking
  • Mug, bowl, knife, fork and spoon
  • LED head-lamp
  • Ground sheet
  • Hiking mattress (closed-cell / self-inflating / blow-up)
  • Water bottle / hydration bag (must be accessible without removing backpack)
  • Water bag (e.g. 5 litre wine bag with tap) for use in camp
  • Small spade (for toilet and trenching)
  • Large plastic bags / sack-liners for clothes and sleeping bag
  • Small plastic bags for dirty / wet clothes and rubbish
  • Hiking tent (4-season with aluminium poles) - unless sleeping in caves.
  • Map (Natal Drakensberg maps can be purchased at most Berg entry points)
  • Compass and / or GPS
  • Basic First Aid Kit (see separate list)
  • Walking rope (optional; 20-25 metres of 7-9 millimetre diameter static climbing rope, but ordinary ski rope will do; this can be used to raise or lower backpacks on ledges, provide hand-holds in tricky places, etc, but is not for climbing on; one such rope per party should be sufficient for most situations)
  • Walking pole/s or stick (optional, but very helpful when crossing rivers)

Clothing

There is a lot of good-quality technical clothing on the market.  It is expensive, but well worth it when your life depends on it!.  For summer hikes many beginners use ordinary cotton T-shirts.  However, cotton is unsuitable for cold, wet weather and is referred to as a “death fabric” because it can absorb many times its own weight in water.

  • Shorts (2 pairs)
  • Shirts (short / long-sleeve; preferably technical, self-wicking fabric)
  • Underwear (proper sports underwear can prevent chafing)
  • Warm tracksuit / polar fleece longs and top (for sleeping)
  • Hiking socks (wear thin inner, and thick outer pair)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Costume and towel (a sarong is lighter and dries quicker)
  • Fully waterproof rain jacket (rain pants optional)
  • Polar fleece / soft-shell jacket for walking in
  • Sandals / light shoes (e.g. Crocodiles / wet shoes) for campsite (these can also be useful for crossing rivers and can be carried outside the backpack for this purpose)

Toiletries

Do not use bath soap in streams, even if it is biodegradable.  Besides creating an unsightly mess, it reduces water surface tension and causes water beetles to drown, as well as lowering the water quality downstream.

  • Toilet roll (in sealed plastic bag)
  • Face cloth
  • Comb
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant (optional)
  • Insect repellent (e.g. Tabard)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm; skin moisturiser for long winter hikes

Additional Items for Winter Hikes

  • 1 pair sports socks (for sleeping)
  • Balaclava and scarf
  • Waterproof gloves / mitts
  • Walking longs (preferably technical; cotton jeans are unsuitable)
  • Warm long-sleeve tops (technical / polar fleece)
  • Thermal underwear (polar fleece / polypropylene)
  • Sleeping bag liner / inner (polar fleece)
 

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