Elsepiek or Elsie’s Peak is just south of the town of Fishhoek, and north of Simonstown. I had spotted it on the way to Table Mountain, and taken a photo of a board at the base of the peak to the north prior to climbing Table Mountain (there is a track marked on Google Maps). That evening, I checked it out and saw there was a southern approach as well. I was able to find that on both Google Maps and the car’s GPS, so I made a tentative plan to activate in the morning prior to us leaving Simonstown.
We approached via Gulconda St and parked at the obvious layby near the fenced off section. I got out and grabbed my gear, leaving Dad to do his laundry in town. His parting words were “Make sure you don’t step on a Cape Cobra”, which is reassuring given his Voldemort tendencies.
If you look at the sign, there is a direct path up the mountain from the south, but it is not immediately obvious. In fact, it is so non-obvious, I didn’t take it, instead following the service track west before cutting up at the stone steps, taking the first left. This resulted in me taking the back way around and ultimately joining up with the path from the north. This is not necessarily a bad thing. This approach is marginally flatter, particularly as you pass the saddle behind Elsepiek.
On my approach to the summit, I ran into a school teacher who was climbing the mountain, who told me the previous day he’d had 100 kids at the top of the mountain. Today he only had 50 odd. I was touched by the irony. Busiest mountain in Africa the day before, all on my lonesome. Tiny little pimple to the south, enjoyed with 50 others.
We crested the summit with a few little scramble sections, before I plonked myself down in the middle of a seething mass of teenage humanity. This had the potential to be a crisis, but it was actually fine. I didn’t set up immediately due to the cramped space, instead taking some photos and doing a few sketches of the scenery. While doing so, I listened to the conversations a bit.
There was one young man who was clearly enamoured with a young lady and asked her many polite questions. It provided an excellent counterpoint to the idea that “kids these days” are only interested in a Tinder-fuelled hook up culture. I listened, amused, to their conversation for a little while. She seemed sweet, he was incredibly polite and genteel. I hope they end up great friends, if not more.
Eventually, the teachers decided that 50 kids on the side of a cliff wasn’t a great idea, and they began their descent (by the long way, not straight down). One of the kids came up and said, “Excuse me, would you mind if I asked you what you are doing?”. Such manners! Such grammar! I answered his question, helped him with a quick geography question (Constantiaberg is over…there), and then bailed up their teacher at the end. I want to shout out again the kids of Fishhoek High School. Incredibly well behaved.
I set up with the antenna on the trig point (now I had clear access) and had decided to try 10m and 12m to try get into Europe. A bit of calling got me nowhere, but I switched to 20m, and worked Sid and Adele again, as well as stations from Bloemfontein, Gauteng and Frank ZS1CM again from Muizenberg.
I had two American tourists come up in the interim and we got talking. They knew the company I work for and we frequented similar areas on the east coast. They told my dad I was almost done when they descended, so also much appreciated. A final request for 40m wasn’t able to be met as I couldn’t spread the counterpoise out far enough on the narrow summit, so I descended, this time taking the shorter southern path. It would have been a tougher climb up than the route I took.