15-Jan-2005 -- This confluence was visited by Brian Roberts, Renate Roberts, Eamon Roberts and Matthias Braune on Saturday, 15 January 2005, accompanied by Nadia Braune, Laura Braune and Sebastian Braune. We had all visited confluence 20S 15E the previous day and had spent the night camping next to the fast-flowing Aap river. Fortunately, the flow had decreased considerably overnight, and we were able to cross uneventfully that morning.
We proceeded northwards towards the Confluence and it became apparent that it was on top of a steep mountain. It was clear that we would not be able to climb from the southern side, as it was too steep. We drove round the mountain with some difficulty due to the rocky terrain. On the eastern side we found a gully which seemed to be the best route to the top. The four of us set off, fortunately with a good supply of bottled water, at about 10 a.m., thinking it would be a short two-hour walk up the mountain and back. However, we were to be proved very wrong by this assumption.
Soon we were noticed by the resident baboons who tried to discourage us, first by barking aggressively and later by rolling stones towards us. When they realized that we were not to be put off so easily, they retreated over the summit and disappeared. It was very hot and we drank water frequently. We reached the summit and found the Confluence which was just below the summit on the southern side. After we had taken our photographs, Matthias decided to descend immediately to check his family below. Renate, Eamon, and myself rested a while before attempting the descent. We had difficulty in finding a suitable place to descend, as the mountain was quite steep near the summit. We proceeded along the top in an easterly direction but still without success.
It was now past midday and very hot. I began developping severe muscle cramps in both legs and was unable to proceed further. I realised that this was due to an electrolyte imbalance due to drinking plain water and profuse sweating. We then decided to send our son Eamon down alone to fetch some electrolyte solution which had been left in the car, as he was the youngest and fittest. We spent several hours under the shade of a tree, worrying about whether he would make it down safely and when he would return. By late afternoon we had more or less accepted the fact that we might have to spend the night on the mountain. Imagine how pleased we were when we spotted the tall figure of Matthias in the distance. We managed to catch his attention by shouting so that he could locate us. He had brought the electrolyte powder, water and an energy drink. All this worked wonders and the cramps disappeared almost immediately. We searched for a way down and managed to find an area on the south-eastern side, which was steep, but manageable. We had to take great care not to dislodge loose stones which could injure the person lower down. The descent took us down a deep rocky ravine. By then it was dusk and we completed the last part of the descent in the dark, reaching the vehicles at about 20h00 that evening. The glow of the campfire as we approached had never been more welcoming!
- Never assume it will be an easy climb.
- Drink an electrolyte/glucose solution rather than plain water when hot and sweating.
- Take basic survival gear just in case you need to overnight.