This route involves actual climbing, and some pretty serious exposure, following the skyline of the ridge up which the telephone lines can be seen marching up to the Upper Cableway Station. There are 3 sections with chains protecting some pretty serious little climbs — considerably more difficult than the tame little scrambles on Lion’s Head or India—Venster. You would be foolish to attempt this without an experienced guide and I would recommend a rope be used for safety. As recently as February 2020 there was a report of a trail runner who fell to their death on this section of the mountain (https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/trail-runner-found-dead-after-plunging-down-table-mountain-20210227). This is an unfortunate result of this dangerous and previously little-known route having being popularised by pictures on Instagram.
Getting there: turn onto Table Mountain Road from Kloof Nek and follow the winding road up to the Cable car. Park your car at Kloof Corner which is on the last bend before reaching the cableway.
GPS Co-ordinates: S33°56.703′, E18°23.863′
Difficulty: very steep, serious exposure, difficult scrambling, difficult route-finding
At the bend cross the road to the signpost. From here a set of stairs takes you up to a well-maintained path up the hillside. At the top [S33°56.950′, E18°23.942′] you will reach what is the Camp’s Bay end of the Contour Path — make a quick detour to the trigonometry beacon [S33°56.947′, E18°23.926′] on your right and enjoy the views of the Twelve Apostles, Camps Bay and Camps Bay beach. Back up, and walk about 20m along the path toward the centre of Table Mountain, keeping your eye on the cliff on your right. You will find a chain hanging down the cliff [S33°56.953′, E18°23.953′]. This is the start of your ascent.
The chain is difficult to climb and is immediately followed by an uncomfortable and exposed scramble up a further short pitch with no chain. Send the least confident of your party up first and if they are in any way uncertain or nervous by the time they reach the top anchor of this chain, turn back!
Once you have finished this first section, follow the cairns up the slope and to the left: if you have not seen any cairns for more than just a few minutes, you are off track. Follow the general direction of the telephone lines heading up the ridge, keeping the poles to your right, and not moving more than 30m away from their line.
The path becomes more distinct as you climb, and crosses under the lines as you are enjoying the unbeatable views of Cape Town, Table Bay, and the Atlantic coastline stretching from Clifton through Camps Bay and beyond.
You will pass a large cairn of rocks as you approach the base of a buttress. The path heads up to the left, getting steeper until you approach some cliffs where the lines head up the face. Go up the gully to the right of the poles. At the top of the gully, you will have views of the Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay. From the top of this gully scramble up the rocks on your left.
You will find a second chain to climb, at the top of which is a weathered old tree [S33°57.258′, E18°24.000′]. If you find this chain too difficult, you can still turn back and traverse into India-Venster. Again: the chain is difficult to climb, footholds are not great, and you will be forced at stages to jam your way up in a fairly uncomfortable manner. A rope and climbing harness is recommended.
Continue up the spine of the ridge until you round some large rocks to find a chimney between two rocks which has a chain to help you up [S33°57.323′, E18°24.084′]. The chimney is fairly narrow and all but the skinniest will be forced to edge in sideways. If you are wearing backpacks, take them off before entering the crack, and pass them up one-by-one. I have a 6m length of 5mm Beal Cordelette for this purpose. If you have nothing at hand, pull them up by hooking them to the end of the chain and hoisting them up (be careful not to drop the chain on the person below!).
You will see a chock-stone near the far end of the crack. We found it easiest to move across until standing on this before attempting to climb up the chimney. It is easier to climb up by moving out the chimney on the Cape Town side — if you do this please be wary of the drop below you! Again, a rope and harness is recommended.
Continue up the ridge until you reach a band of rocks [S33°57.381′, E18°24.151′]. The trail coming in from the left is the end of the India-Venster route. Follow the path to the right of the base of this cliff as you head towards Fountain Ledge. You then walk along Fountain Ledge, walking around and up onto the summit of Table Mountain with Camps Bay basking below you. If the weather is rolling in you can retreat down India—Venster (only if absolutely necessary!).
Below is a video taken from the top of the route. Wait for the cable-car to pop out of the clouds, and look carefully to see if you can spot the rock climbers braving the wind and cloud!