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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 .. 18 Next page >>
Track
Near Binn Bh
David-Guenot a few minutes ago.
walk, Len: 9.9km, Climb: 725m, Area: Binn Bh?n or Maol?n, Twelve Bens (Ireland)...

  
Track
Out and back along the Devilsmother ridge
David-Guenot a few minutes ago.
walk, Len: 12.6km, Climb: 919m, Area: Devilsmother Far North Top, Partry/Joyce ...

  
Forum: General
New video: A winter walk in the Sheeffry Hill
David-Guenot less than an hour ago.
Part one of a fantastic walk I had in the Sheeffrys about 3 weeks ago. It was a bright, sunny day and I took plenty of time to film and take photos. Thanks to my friend Wilderness giving me a lift...

Track
A fantastic day out on the Sheeffrys
David-Guenot less than an hour ago.
walk, Len: 14.9km, Climb: 765m, Area: Tawnyard, Sheeffry Hills (Ireland) Tawnya...

  
Track
Na Sléibhte February walk, plan B
David-Guenot less than an hour ago.
A shorter version of the Na Sl

  
Track
Binn Ghuaire
David-Guenot less than an hour ago.
walk, Len: 8.2km, Climb: 419m, Area: Binn Ghuaire, Twelve Bens (Ireland) Binn G...

Track
Ballinagee Bridge to Hollywood (Western Half of St. Kevin's Way)
jgfitz 2 days ago.
This is the first half of St. Kevin's Way, but walked in reverse direction. This pilgrim route normally starts in Hollyw walk, Len: 14.9km, Climb: 195m, Area: Dublin/Wicklow (Ireland)

  
Summit Comment
Knocknafallia: Summit Found
CaminoPat 2 days ago.
Walked to Knocknafallia from Knockmeal on Sunday 18 February to location of stone cairn which includes a passage grave on the eastern side of Knocknafallia. The cairn is located at Irish Grid S 0...

  
Track
Lake District: Loughrigg Fell
Onzy 3 days ago.
Up and down to a solitary Wainwright above Ambleside. walk, Len: 5.0km, Climb: 278m, Area: Loughrigg Fell, Lake District - Central & ...

Track
Lake District: North Central Fells
Onzy 3 days ago.
Walk above Derwent Water taking in 5 Wainwright hills; Walla Crag (Not listed on MV), Bleaberry Fell, High Seat, High... walk, Len: 17.3km, Climb: 727m, Area: Bleaberry Fell, Lake District - Central

  
Summit Comment
Truskmore: Access update 18 Feb 2018 from carpark at IG78210 48924
ColinCallanan 3 days ago.
I had intended to summit Tievebaun and/or Truskmore, and had also hoped to check out "Eagles rock" using the car park as a start point at IG78210 48924, so I proceeded to park my car at this offic...

  
Track
Lake District: Above Troutbeck
Onzy 3 days ago.
Walk taking in 3 Wainwrights from Troutbeck, Sour Howes, Sallows and Troutbeck Tongue (not on this site). The extensi... walk, Len: 13.8km, Climb: 721m, Area: Sour Howes, Lake District - Eastern Fell


RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS 1 2 3 .. 18 Next page >>