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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 .. 24 Next page >>
Forum: General
in yer pants ....
BleckCra a day ago.
I turn my attention to mountainviews.ie. So much for focus.I see that its English translation of Irish hill names remains - and in remaining, (for the Mountains of Mourne at least) .... , remains ...

  
Summit Comment
Rosgalliv Hill: Coastal Hill
sandman a day ago.
For the Mountain View members who will be joining Liz50 for her walk on 7/10/17 why not get there a few minutes earlier in order to visit this small hill with its Megalithic Tomb . Parking is avai...

  
Summit Comment
Gubacarrigan: Coastal Hill
sandman a day ago.
Your options for parking are numerous but a lay-by is located at L7648192513. It only takes a few minutes to reach the cliff edge and on to the summit but as evident from the tracts along the edge...

Forum: Suggestions
Change to Local 100
simon3 a day ago.
The Local 100 list and completing it is one of the most popular lists that MV has. It allows the time-poor to get out and do some interesting hillwalking but with minimal travel time. It encourage...

  
Track
Spanish Sierra Nevada: Mulahacen
Onzy 2 days ago.
Route to Mulahacen from Alto del Chorillo returning on a lower track to the west. Route takes in both Mulahacen I and I walk, Len: 12.7km, Climb: 782m, Area: Unid, Unid ()

  
Summit Comment
Rostoohy Hill: Coastal Hill
sandman a day ago.
The summit area with its hill fort and views across the bay.

Track
Spanish Sierra Nevada: La Alcazaba
Onzy 2 days ago.
Route to La Alcazaba (3,369m). walk, Len: 16.6km, Climb: 1143m, Area: Unid, Unid ()

  
Summit Comment
Rostoohy Hill: Coastal Hill
sandman a day ago.
Parking where appropriate make your way the short distance along the foreshore to L9531390160 where ascent to the hill exists as shown in the photo. You will encounter a small stone drinking well ...

  
Track
Lanigans Ball and the Slieve Mish Mountains
GSheehy 2 days ago.
?What in the name of Jaysus are you on about with your ?Lanigan?s Ball??? ?This is hillwalking lad. Not danc walk, Len: 27.3km, Climb: 1557m, Area: Caherbla, Slieve Mish (Ireland) Caherb

Forum: General
Go easy on Gates
melohara 6 days ago.
Please be conscious of damage that may be caused to farm gates when climbing over them. I recently met a very friendly and hospitable farmer who welcomed my rambling over his hills despite him hav...

  
Summit Comment
Claggan Hill: Coastal Hill
sandman a day ago.
Although the trig is clearly visible from where i parked for Roscahill a double fence lies in wait from there. Easy access is via the field gate located at L9409289344 with ample parking 50 meters...

  
Track
Le Taillon via la Brèche de Roland
David-Guenot 5 days ago.
walk, Len: 16.1km, Climb: 1013m, Area: France, Occitanie ()


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