The Sentinel Peak Chain Ladders that are used to access the Amphitheater route to the top of the Tugela Falls from Sentinel Car Park are going to be replaced with brand new ladders. This is happening because the engineers involved in the rehabilitation of the pathways have concerns about the safety of the current ladders. Time, weather and many thousands of hikers have taken their toll on the metal construction and it’s time to replace them before there is a problem.
A complete new build has been chosen because the professional view is that repairs will not be good enough, and that the safety of hikers cannot be compromised.
This project is being managed by the Department of Environmental Affairs after reacting to the engineer’s report and changing the project plans to prioritize the Sentinel Peak chain ladder replacement. They will be removing the existing ladders and carrying all the metal off the mountain. New ladders will then be constructed and installed at the same site.
During the removal and construction period the GULLY (Beacon Buttress Gully) will be open for hikers who want to climb to the top of the Amphitheater and see the top of Tugela Falls.
A safe path up and down the gully is marked with yellow spray-paint. A cairn has been built at the top of the gully, also marked with yellow paint, to guide hikers to the access point for the downward route. Since the marking of the gully route to the top of the Amphitheater many more hikers are choosing to use this alternative route. They are happy with its accessibility and safety and mostly feel less intimated than climbing the chain ladders. This route adds an extra half hour to the hike to the top of the tugela falls.
Now to the million-dollar question: when will the new ladders be in place? Please be assured that everyone wants the fastest possible turnaround, so there is full support for getting new Sentinel Peak Chain Ladders into place as fast as safely possible.
In summary: Hikers going up from Sentinel Car Park to access the top of the Amphitheater will, with immediate effect, only have access to the gully until new ladders are in place. The route is open, and there is no need for any change of plans.