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Chasing Snow in Ceres – 6 July 2014

Well well, finally I left the house and have an outdoors adventure to blog about! The weather this winter has been rough, with some bitterly cold spells, and it was clear already by Tuesday the first of July that another serious cold front was headed this way. Weather prediction models were showing freezing levels down to near 1000m for a while, with sufficient moisture for there to be good snow probability through areas of the Cape. The cold front hit on Friday and it sure lived up to its name, temperatures dropped rapidly late on Friday and by Saturday morning snow had fallen on various mountains around the Cape, with some even falling on Table Mountain later in the morning. The snow continued through Saturday and even early on Sunday, though by this time the freezing levels were rising and snow was only falling at higher altitude.

My sister and her fiance had planned to chase any remaining snow on the Sunday, and I immediately opted to join. I have been meaning to do a snow chase for a few years now but have just never gotten around to it.

We left Somerset West at around 8:45 and headed towards Ceres. A short stop in Worcester gave us the first sights of snow on a distant mountain towards Ceres.

By this time, we knew we wouldn’t make it to Matroosberg in time as their entrance gate closes at 11:00, so we had to look for alternatives. Images that were shared on social media earlier in the morning showed some ground level snow, but not enough to warrant trying some of the other areas near Matroosberg like Klondyke Farm.


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Because of this we took the advice of fellow weather enthusiast Gordon Richardson and headed towards Gydo Pass, just to the west of Ceres. The R303 lead us through Prince Alfred Hamlet and through the mountainous pass. A few beautiful sights along the sides of us, with snow covered mountains, though always just out of reach for us.


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We continued on, and took a left turn which lead us through some more mountains and passed the Opdrag Private Nature Reserve. On the way through we noticed an area of fairly accessible snow, though not packed as much as we’d have liked; so we continued on towards the distant white mountains. 20 or 30 kilometers later we found ourselves unable to reach the snow and turned around back to the R303 from where we came. This time instead of turning left, we decided to continue further down the road.


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Here we came to a farm that had large amounts of low lying snow packed on their mountains, but the gate was closed and we were unable to contact the owners for permission to enter.


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At this point we made out final call, which was to head to the spot we had noticed earlier, with some light but fairly low, accessible snow.


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After parking the bakkie, we looked up at the mountain in front of us. It was only around a 30-45 minute hike to the snow, but it was anything but an easy climb. There were no paths and it was an extremely steep climb up.


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My sister was unable to make the climb and decided to stay at the bottom with someone who was joining us, and their child. Her fiance, his friend and myself however, decided we would take on the challenge.

We battled through the ankle deep waters and small trees, forging our way forward towards the snow. And after a while we saw our first signs of snow at our feet, though beginning to melt in front of us. As we ascended the snow patches increased, and soon we were able to throw balls of snow at each others faces.

Since my girlfriend Sarah was unable to join us, I also spent a few minutes creating a mini-snowman in her absence, who had a touch of a crooked smile. It could be because his eyes are in fact buck shit, but that’s just an assumption.


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Sarah’s Snowman

The view was great, and the temperature cold, though thankfully it’s difficult to feel cold when you’re hiking up a 70 degree incline.

We probably spent around 30 minutes messing around before we headed back down.

In the end, it wasn’t ideal and going the day before would have probably been a lot better. But from a photographic stand point I was more than happy to just be able to get my camera aimed at something new for a change. Next time earlier departure time will be essential!

Bryn De Kocks

Bryn is a passionate and opinionated antinatalist and naturalist with a love for nature, the ocean, photography, severe weather and music. He spends most of his time looking for new birds within the Western Cape, taking landscape photographs or behind his computer being a nerd.

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