I have summitted Matroosberg Peak in the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve twice now: once in the middle of summer and once in the snow in winter! At 2249m, this is officially the highest peak I have summited to-date!
Difficulty: serious ascent and a bit of altitude make this a tough hike
Matroosberg is home to skiing in the Western Cape, and as you near the summit you will pass the UCT ski hut, as well as two ski-lifts — difficult to imagine snow on a very hot summer day like the one we enjoyed!
We followed the 4 x 4 road all the way up, so no route description is necessary. It gets pretty steep, and there are sections where quite frankly I would rather trust in my two feet than any vehicle. Certain points on the road are named, and its easy to imagine some pretty hairy incidents occurring as the boys take on this challenging road with their toys! The altitude became quite noticeable and my breathing became slightly laboured.
You will reach an intersection in the road where Groothoek Canyon [S33°22.537′, E19°39.792′, 1937m] will be a short distance to the right. It’s worth the quick detour to peer down into the depths of this impressive canyon. Don’t get too close to the edge — in years past there have been some tragic accidents here.
It took us 3 hours to summit Matroosberg Peak [S33°22.914′, E19°40.123′, 2259m] on the 10km along the 4 X 4 trail from the Ski Hut.
We hiked back down via the trail in the valley. This trail starts near the turn-off to Groothoek Canyon, heading down into the valley past the huts.
There was no water on the way except for in the valley on the way down (we swam). There was no shade whatsoever, and it is extremely hot in summer. In winter expect the opposite: snow and ice!
My second experience of Matroosberg Peak was on a sunny winters day in August. This time we did the route in reverse, ascending the valley and descending via the 4 x 4 trail (Garmin track below). Watch the crazy video below to get an idea of what the area looks like!
Please do not underestimate the temperature! Even on a sunny day it is cold up at the summit, and with snow on the ground the wind-chill factor takes you to freezing point and below in seconds. On our hike we layered up: I had a K-Way Base layer, long sleeve technical running shirt, Hi-Tec Fleece and then either my CAPESTORM Helium Jacket (on the way up when the exertion kept us warm) or my CAPESTORM Vantage Jacket (on the way down when it was below zero), plus a scarf, beanie and lined gloves, as well as thick woollen socks and fully waterproof Merrell Gore-Tex Perimeter Boots!
There was very little snow visible from the farm. As we walked up into the valley we could see light snow higher in the valley and on the peak, but it didn’t look like there would be much fun to be had. We encountered the first patches of snow at about 1600m. By the time we reached the area of the ski hut there was substantial snow on the ground, and we stopped to chat to a group of people building a snowman. After a few snacks we headed on up toward the 4 x 4 trail above and the saddle area at Groothoek Canyon. From here we headed up the 4 x 4 trail to the actual Peak. By now there was plenty of snow on the ground to either side of the road, and there were patches that were knee-deep!
The weather was pretty extreme at the summit and we were pleased that we had all the right gear! We stopped and had a lunch break in a sunny sheltered spot just below the summit. The driver of one of the 4 x 4 vehicles let us know that the temperature was 1°C; with the wind-chill factored in it must have been below zero.
We followed the 4 x 4 trail down. On the way we made a detour of a couple of hundred meters at the Groothoek Canyon where most of the 4 x 4 vehicles end up to spend some time in the snow. The Reserve staff are now stationed here to monitor safety.