Climbing & Mountaineering

Drakensberg Mountains

The Drakensberg range lies in the eastern part on the Republic of South Africa. It is the country's highest and longest range of peaks and forms a natural boundry between South Africa and the small landlocked Kingdom of Lesotho. The highest point of the range is Mafadi peak in the central region of the range. This fairly insignificant, flat topped peak rises to 3450 meters and is the highest within the Republic.  Over the border inside Lesotho near Sani Pass lies Thaba Ntlenyana which is the highest peak south of Kilimanjaro at 3482 meters.

The range consists of a high escarpment with large rounded mountains to the west which form the Lesotho highlands. To the east the escarpment drops precipitously into the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Standing just east of the escarpment stand numerous peaks and pinnacles intersected by deep gorges.

Most rock climbing happens on the freestanding peaks just off the escarpment, while the snow and ice climbs tend to occur in the south facing valleys on the main wall. The freestanding peaks tend to occur mainly in the northern and central regions and correspondingly this where the majority of the rock climbing is found. In contrast, the southern region has a more gentle appearance and is also colder and this where most of the winter climbing can be found.
All the climbs are  fairly major undertakings, that require hiking in to a basecamp, sleeping the night and then climbing the following day. A second night may also be needed before hiking back to the roadhead. The climbs also often require scrambling up and down steep grass slopes on the approuches and descents. The rock climbing takes place on a type of rock called Stormberg Basalt. The climbing is at times run-out and difficult to protect and care must be taken due to it's sometimes crumbly nature.