Well, that depends on who you speak to…
Encyclopaedia Britannica lists the mountain’s height as 1086m, while its Columbia counterpart claims it is 1087m high. Popular web encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, also carries the figure 1086, but its business partner, WikiAnswers, will tell you the highest point on Table Mountain is 1085m above sea level. Even South African Tourism and Cape Town Tourism disagree – the national body says the mountain is 1086m high, while the city’s sightseeing officials say it’s one metre lower.
What we do know for sure is that Maclear’s Beacon, a 3m-high cairn of rocks, is the highest point on Table Mountain. But, the experts tell us, it’s actually still rising from the earth – albeit exceptionally slowly. Table Mountain’s genesis was around 300-million years ago, as glacial deposits at the beacon can verify. Back then, Africa was virtually at the centre of supercontinent, Pangaea. Around 165-million years ago, Pangaea broke up into two parts, one of them being Gondwanaland. It then also started splitting, and Africa emerged as a stand-alone continent by 100-million years ago. The shifts in the earth’s plates as Australia, India and Antarctica broke off from Gondwanaland, created the famous Cape Fold Mountains. Table Mountain resisted folding because of its tough granite base, deflecting the forces downwards instead. This resulted in the mountain slowly beginning to rise, a process that still hasn’t stopped. However, we’re not going to see Table Mountain put on a growth spurt any time soon, as it’s also relentlessly being eroded by rain, wind and even fire.
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway’s marketing manager, Collette van Aswegen, says that, according to Cableway officials, the mountain is 1085m above sea level: “It would be great to have a definitive answer on this. We are concerned that there are so many figures out there, but it seems the jury is still out!”
Maybe even the experts can’t agree on the exact height of what is arguably South Africa’s most famous mountain, but one thing is crystal-clear – give or take a few metres, Table Mountain is the best viewpoint in Cape Town, and definitely worth a climb (or a ride in the cable cars)!
Courtesy Table Mountain Cable Way