|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2009)|
Waaihoek is the name of a peak at one of the vertices of a very large, remote, rugged and mountainous rural property called Zuurberg ("Sour Mountain"), located about 60km north-east of Cape Town, on the margin of a great sandstone massif known as the Hex River Mountains. The property is owned by the University of Cape Town and is well known in the Western Cape as the 'home' of the University of Cape Town Mountain and Ski Club (UCTMSC). The name in Afrikaans means 'blow corner', or perhaps 'howl corner', as in 'the corner where the wind blows or howls'. The first part of the name, "waai", is a verb, not a noun. The name is pronounced 'Vie hook', where vie rhymes with eye.
Although technically "a farm", Zuurberg is not used as such and never has been in its history of well over a century. Although the property is some hundreds of square kilometres in area, one would be hard pressed to find half an acre of arable soil on it. It is a mountain top, no more and no less. Perhaps half of it is bare rock (sandstone of the Table Mountain Group) and the rest is covered by the poorest of sandy soils that support typical Cape fynbos. The property has no permanent residents, no houses, no fences, no roads and no significant improvements except for a few mountain huts, all of which are several hours' walk (steeply uphill) from the nearest roads. In fact, some parts of the property are so remote and inaccessible that they cannot be reached in a day's walking even by strong parties. Wildlife includes baboons, dassies, klipspringers, leopards, the rooikat and vaalkat (two smaller carnivores), scorpions, snakes, tortoises, bats and dozens of species of birds.
Many of the higher parts of the property lie at altitudes above 1500m. In summer the area is usually hot - forty degrees Celsius is not unknown - and dry. Finding water away from the few permanent mountain streams can be a problem. In winter it is much cooler and wetter and at times blizzard conditions develop, often with great speed. A number of people caught in these storms have died of exposure. Snow usually lies on the ground for a few weeks around September and members of the UCTMSC then operate a private ski tow in the vicinity of Waaihoek Peak. The club maintains two huts in the area. Both were built by students, who carried most of the materials up the mountain on their backs. The older and smaller structure, built before the Second World War, is called Pells Hut. There is a newer and much larger hut somewhat higher up the slopes. It was built c. 1970.