Driekie and Riaan and Leslie's Pass. How to forget that climb?
Driekie and Riaan had visited the Drakensberg many times before and done a few challenging day hikes but they had never backpacked and been in the High Berg in the past. They had visited the Injisuthi Area before and knew that Mafadi, South Africa’s highest point, was somewhere up there not far from the top of Leslie’s Pass. It was time to go for it. But nothing could prepare them for that steep climb up the pass, not to mention the unexpected high winds that we would encounter on top. It’s so easy to underestimate the Drakensberg... However, even though it was probably the toughest 4 days they had ever been through, I knew they had what was needed and they managed just fine. It’s hard to forget that close look at the Dragon, its changing moods and its indescribable beauty.
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In the long and tedious boulder-hopping section between Marble Baths and the base of Leslies Pass, our first overnight spot.
The start of the second day, along the first metres of Leslie's Pass. Finally we were on a path again. The maze had been left behind.
Leslie's Pass clearly on sight. It's the grassy slope on the left hand side of the spur.
Looking back down the Injisuthi Valley from the top of the first ridge .
Once on the top of the pass, we found some snow patches that had fallen a few days before. The wind was howling and it was very cold. We put on several layers to make ourselves more comfortable. It had taken us a lot longer than we had planned so we decided to cut the day shorter (the plan was Injisuthi Summit Cave) and look for a spot by the river where to pitch our tents for the second night.
During the night the wind seemed to gain strength. By 4:30am my 5 year-old Salewa Micra tent couldn't bear it any longer and one of the poles snapped and went through the flysheet tearing it. Fortunately it was only 1 hour to sunrise and it was dry, so I just laid down with the tent over me. Here, at the beginning of our third day, making our way to the top of Mafadi, the broad Dome in the top centre of the picture.
This is the small shelf on Mafadi where we usually have a rest to keep out of the wind. This time it hardly provided any shelter, so it was a short break.
Coming down from the escarpment by Judges Pass (usually the way up on our regular Mafadi hikes). We were finally out of the wind. What a relief! The third day was a long day as we had to do the extra bit we had left the day before. We made Centenary Hut just before dark.
The morning of the fourth and final day was memorable with clear views of the most important landmarks of the area. From Left to right: Trojan Wall, the Injisuthi Triplets, Lesser and Greater Injisuthi Buttress, the Ape, Old Woman Grinding Corn, Champagne Castle, Monk's Cowl and a bit of Cathkin Peak.
Zooming in towards the Injisuthi Triplets. From left to Right: Eastern Injisuthi Triplet and Western Injisuthi Triplet. The Middle Injisuthi Triplet is out of sight tucked in between the other 2.
Zooming in towards the Lesser Injisuthi Buttress (left) and the Greater Injisuthi Buttress (right).
A similar picture with the sun much higher up. Leslie's Pass is just visible, between Scaly Peak and the Molar.
Another shot of the Injisuthi Triplets. The Middle one is nowhere to be seen yet. Injisuthi Summit Cave is on the top grassy slope on the left hand side of the Eastern Triplet.