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Post details Post   (Contract 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 Contract pics
Picture: The infamous Sani Pass in the Drakensburg Mountains (Contract 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 .. 28 Next page >>
Track
Pic de Cresp
David-Guenot 15 hours ago.
walk, Len: 12.9km, Climb: 1190m, Area: France, Occitanie ()

  
Forum: General
James Forrest - VLs in 2 months man - talks
simon3 a day ago.
Date: 23rd/24th/25th January 2019Venue: 23rd Jan Dublin24th Jan Thurles25th Jan NewryDetails here: https://mountaineering.ie/events/2013/default.aspx?iid=2214The Vandeleur-Lynams, a list now maint...

  
Summit Comment
Dromderalough NE Top: VL Number 273 bagged....
Colin Murphy a day ago.
My final Vandeleur-Lynam! Unfortunately No. 273 wasn't the most distinctive summit (when I came off Mangerton I couldn't even pick it out on the landscape) , but the views from the top are tremend...

Summit Summary
Dromderalough NE Top: Long route from the south.
Collaborative entry Last edit by: Colin Murphy a day ago.
Not normally done in isolation, this top usually forms part of a walk involving Dromderalough itself or Mangerton. One approach is from the north, which has the advantage of a gently rising track ...

  
Summit Comment
Dromderalough NE Top: Odd-looking formations
Colin Murphy a day ago.
On my approach to the summit I came across a large field of hundreds of these rather striking formations, which I think are are moss-covered boulders, but which looked like giant green ant-hills o...

  
Summit Comment
Mullaghdoo: Winter has arrived in the Sperrins
eamonoc 2 days ago.
Visited Mullaghdoo today, as part of a 16.4km tek over the Mullaghs, followed Onzy`s track 2570 and added on the walk out to Mullaghdoo and back from Mullaghclogha, much retracing of steps require...

Summit Comment
Mullaghdoo: Winter has arrived in the Sperrins
eamonoc 2 days ago.
View back over route taken from Mullaghclogha to Mullaghdoo

  
Summit Comment
Slievenaglogh: Pleasant 90 Minute Stroll
Pepe 4 days ago.
A blanket of cloud covered the higher Cooleys from Foxe's Rock to Foye but Slievenagloch was in the clear - happy days! Lots of logging activity at 9.30 of a Monday morning, so no space to park at...

  
Summit Comment
Mangerton: The Lake District
TommyV 6 days ago.
Scapania's directions to the start are perfect. It's possible to make a looped walked taking in Stoompa and Mangerton which will allow for great views of so many lakes I won't list them. It's a fa...

Summit Comment
Naweeloge Top: Meh
magnumpig 6 days ago.
I followed Sandmans instructions - thanks for those - it's a bit of a time consuming and boring climb, and the views from the top arent great. I wouldnt prioritise it if you have time constraints ...

  
Summit Comment
Ben More: Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) and Stuc a' Chroin in the distance
melohara a week ago.
Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) and Stuc a' Chroin in the distance from Ben More Crianlarich

  
Summit Comment
Ben More: with Stob Binnein from Stob Coire an Lochain
melohara a week ago.
Stob Binnein and Ben More Crianlarich from Stob Coire an Lochain


RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS 1 2 3 .. 28 Next page >>