Thanks for this report. We are going up first week in March. Do you have a track log of this trip, we are using your waypoints for this route and we have a small problem.
Thanks for your excellent blog on your climb of Thabana Ntlenyana. Two colleagues, my husband and myself just did the climb this past Sunday, February 12, 2012. Ours was a slight variation in that we started at the village just down by the Sani River bridge crossing; that saved us some +/- six kilometers plus the biggest river crossing. I’d recommend this. We asked and left our vehicle in the village and just paid a small sum of R20 (not asked for!). My two colleagues are Basotho, so we had some advantage in terms of language for all of these negotiations. In general, though, Basotho are wonderfully kind people and accommodating, so anyone could work things out, despite any language issues.
We did the hike with a 6:45 am start and got back to the village by 4:30 pm. This included roughly an hour at the top and stopping to visit with herd boys along the way. We may try to post more info on the hike… One of the things we used was a taped-together and scanned (just capturing the specific area we needed) topo map that included some of the area in Thaba Tseka district that your topo does not show.
Wish I’d seen your blog before I went! It would have inspired me to take better photos. Yours are excellent and they really capture the beauty of the hike.
The summit, itself, is rather…anti-climatic compared to others we have done. It certainly is an easy hike and manageable in a day; however, as your detailed planning AND your experience points out, due to the unpredictable nature of the weather there, planning for an overnight is wise. Initially we’d planned to do this hike two Decembers ago and we arrived to rain and frigid temps at Sani-Top. The next morning there was snow on all the distant peaks. This was in the height of summer in December! That afternoon a fellow arrived at Sani-Top. He’d done the summit and gotten caught in the snow. Fortunately, like you, he’d brought along a sleeping bag and bivy sack so he hunkered down for the night and came out the next morning. A major rainstorm, like the one you encountered, would be a very strong possibility, as well, and one that could most certainly lead to hypothermia since it can get very cold up there, with the winds.
The only other issue that makes this hike a challenge is the altitude. We come from Maseru (currently anyway) and are already, therefore, somewhat adjusted physiologically to altitude; but if someone was coming from sea level, they’d be feeling it. With the two sections of elevation I was surprised at how difficult it was feeling to go over very easy terrain; my body kept breathing but wanting more oxygen and I just did not have the energy, other than for slow steps.
So, yes, the potential weather and the altitude (oxygen) are the two factors that can make this easy mountain a challenge.
Thanks again for your excellent blog. Cheers!