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Post details Post   (Expand pics)
I have put a summa.. by Dessie1   (Show all posts)
Co Wicklow walkers.. by aidand   (Show all posts)
kernowclimber
2012-05-07 15:40:45
"The infamous Sani Pass in the Drakensburg Mountains" from kernowclimber Expand pics
The infamous Sani Pass in the Drakensburg Mountains (Expand pics)
Climbing to the top of the Kingdom in the Sky
Getting to the tiny landlocked Kingdom of Lesotho from Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa is no easy matter. It entails a 9 km drive up the infamous unpaved Sani Pass that snakes its rocky, tortuous way up the edge of an escarpment of the Drankensburg Mountains. With features such as Suicide Bend and Haemorrhoid Hill you need a strong anal nerve and a 4X4 to even attempt it.

Buckshot rain drummed on our 4X4 as it lurched forward over deep gullies scoured by floods, through streams and bad potholes, loose rocks churning beneath the wheels. Mud and freezing temperatures made traction tricky on the numerous hairpin bends – at least we couldn’t see the horrendous death trap drop-offs in the mist. Martin did well to coax the 4X4 up this brutal pass where several vehicles were abandoned and another towed up the final 2 hairpins. Our relief was palpable when the border post and a group of wretched rondavels finally loomed through the cloud and billowing coal smoke at the top of the pass (2874m). A few beers in the nearby Highest Pub in Africa was just reward!

We awoke in our hut to a crimson dawn chasing away the stars. The glistening earth steamed as the sun gently released it from night’s icy grasp. Thatched mokhoro (stone huts) emitted clouds of blue smoke as we drove with our Basotho guide to a nearby village to climb Thabane Ntlenyana (3482m), the highest mountain in Southern Africa. At just over 22 kms, it is not a technical climb over treeless Afro-Montane grassland and a few river crossings only tricky in the rainy season, but it is at altitude. The route traverses a valley for over 4 kms before a steep climb up a ridge followed by a descent into another broad valley. A second ridge must be surmounted before the final pull up the shoulder of the mountain with its crown of rocks.

This is big sheep country, unfenced under expansive blue skies, domain of jackal buzzards. Basotho shepherds clad in balaclavas, woollen blankets and gumboots greet you warmly in rapid Sesotho, the silence broken only by the clanking of sheep bells. With winter approaching there was fresh snow on the higher slopes but the sun was warm on our backs. After 4 hrs we attained the summit, buffeted by strong winds. The Zulus call these mountains Quathlamba or ‘The Barrier of Spears’. We understood why as we gazed upon an army of emerald peaks, most over 3,000m, some topped with a pie crust of basaltic rock gleaming with snow. We watched mesmerised as cloud drifted languidly up over the edge of the dramatic Drakensburg Escarpment below, the inky blue ramparts of the mysterious Giant’s Castle floating between earth and sky beyond.

The descent took just under 3 hrs. You could climb this mountain without a guide but at 35 euro this was money well spent in such a poor community and we learnt much about Basotho culture. In all it took us 7.5 hours with around 1.5 hours of stops and we were back in the pub to celebrate before sunset.
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RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS 1 2 3 .. 19 Next page >>
Track
Brockagh Tops
Bunsen7 3 hours ago.
Similar track to a number of others which I used for guidance. Parked at the forest entrance having turned up at the ... walk, Len: 14.5km, Climb: 517m, Area: Brockagh Mountain SE Top, Dublin/Wicklow

  
Forum: General
Do your VITAL bit for hillwalking maps soon.
simon3 4 hours ago.
Ordnance Survey Ireland bring out a high proportion of the maps of interest to hillwalkers in Ireland. They are the only source of mapping for vast swathes of the island of Ireland. But since they...

  
Track
Lake District: Skiddaw via Ullock Pike
Onzy 20 hours ago.
Classic route in the lakes... walk, Len: 15.3km, Climb: 1062m, Area: Ullock Pike, Lake District - Northern Fe...

Track
La Gomera - GR132
GSheehy 2 days ago.
In 1492, Columbus set out from San Sebasti

  
Summit Summary
Doughruagh: Rocky summit with access issues from Kylemore Abbey
Collaborative entry Last edit by: liz50 4 days ago.
Located behind Kylemore Abbey, it has been reported that access from the grounds is no longer allowed. It is possible to park in a small lay-by at L77637 58711 and walk approx 30m along the road t...

  
Summit Summary
Doughruagh South Top: Twin of Doughruagh main top
Collaborative entry Last edit by: liz50 4 days ago.
Located behind Kylemore Abbey, it has been reported that access from the grounds is no longer allowed. It is possible to park in a small lay-by at L77637 58711 and walk approx 30m along the road t...

Summit Summary
Raghtin More: The smallest Inishowen Arderin
Collaborative entry Last edit by: liz50 5 days ago.
The easiest approach is to park at Urrismenagh viewpoint carpark C317 443 and follow the track to its highest point. From here you can avoid Crockmain and carry on towards Raghtin More to the Nort...

  
Summit Summary
Crockmain: An uninspiring summit with great views
Collaborative entry Last edit by: liz50 5 days ago.
The easiest approach is to park at Urrismenagh viewpoint carpark C317 443 and follow the track to its highest point before heading north over heather to the summit. Alternatively from Mamore Gap c...

  
Summit Summary
Knocknanacree: Views to Slieve Mish and the Dingle Peninsula
Collaborative entry Last edit by: liz50 5 days ago.
Summit can be approached from the West by parking near Minard Castle V556 992 and following a rough track uphill past a quarry and onto the summit ridge.A shorter steeper approach is possible from...

Summit Summary
Currywongaun: Rough and Rocky
Collaborative entry Last edit by: liz50 4 days ago.
Park off road in a small lay-by at L72134 59157 and ascend the spur in a roughly Easterly direction to the summit. Usually climbed en-route to its larger neighbor Doughraugh.

  
Summit Summary
Teeromoyle Mountain: A summit in the middle of a classic Horseshoe walk
Collaborative entry Last edit by: liz50 5 days ago.
This summit is usually accessed whilst walking the Glenbeigh Horseshoe. A shortened version taking in the 4 central 600m summits in the centre of the horseshoe Teeromoyle, Coomacarrea, Mullaghnara...

  
Summit Comment
Bruse Hill: Bruse
Nekarsulm 6 days ago.
Track up from the quarry is overgrown. I partially walked up a small stream, as it at least cuts its way through the whins. Climbing straight upwards, you will see places where some earlier climbe...


RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS 1 2 3 .. 19 Next page >>