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...not sure, but i.. by Conor74   (Show all posts)
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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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Track
Galtymore & Galtybeg from King's Yard
conrad1179 8 hours ago.
run, Len: 11.8km, Climb: 670m, Area: Galtymore, Galty Mountains (Ireland) Galty...

  
Summit Summary
Camaderry South East Top: Steep climb, sorry trail, great views.
Collaborative entry Last edit by: simon3 19 hours ago.
There's a number of ways to reach the top such as starting from the main, paying, carpark near the Glendalough lake at around T1115 9635. Going straight up from here more or less north there is an...

  
Summit Comment
Kirikee Mountain: Kirikee from the NW.
simon3 19 hours ago.
From the ridge south of Derrybawn there is this NW view of Kirikee.Courtesy of siteviewer_comreg.ie we can find the owner of this mast: Three Ireland.The amusing conjunction with the cairn below t...

Summit Summary
Brockagh Mountain SE Top: Flattish height NW of Laragh with views, boggy paths a
Collaborative entry Last edit by: simon3 20 hours ago.
Situated at the south eastern tip of a spur from Tonelagee it therefore commands wonderful views out over Laragh to the south east and Glenmacnass valley and waterfall to the north. Glendalough is...

  
Summit Comment
Carrickarede: Island.
sandman 2 days ago.
Carrickarede island is connected to the mainland by the world famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. One of Northern Ireland's top tourist attractions it is operated by the National Trust but unfortun...

  
Track
BRANDON HILL - THE QUICK WAY
David-Guenot 2 days ago.
A steep but quick ascent along the forestry on rocky terrain, along what I believe has been dug as a firebreak rather ... walk, Len: 5.0km, Climb: 305m, Area: Brandon Hill, South Midlands (Ireland) B

Summit Comment
Inishmeane: The concrete road thru the village
magicstep 3 days ago.
Part of the village, about 10 houses in total.

  
Summit Comment
Inishmeane: Not much to do, a tranquil place.
magicstep 3 days ago.
Visited in 2014. There's a sandy beach and a solid pier with slipway and a picnic table facing the mainland. The road from the pier all the way thru the village is a robust concrete one, but it's ...

  
Track
BLACKSTAIRS CHALLENGE 2017 - A PEAK-BAGGER'S ROUTE
David-Guenot 2 days ago.
walk, Len: 34.1km, Climb: 1629m, Area: Black Rock Mountain, Blackstairs Mountai...

Summit Comment
Inishsirrer: Deserted village
magicstep 3 days ago.
Mainland on the horizon (left and right)

  
User profile
ewen
ewen 5 days ago.
Now living furth of Scotland and getting to know the Irish hills. If you come across a Scottish hill Walker with dodgy knees and walking sedately, stop and say hello.

  
Summit Comment
Inishsirrer: The only building that is not a ruin.
magicstep 3 days ago.
Surprisingly Donegal islands have a very good mobile internet reception, sometimes better than in an office in Dublin.


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