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Offline JonW

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Rhino Peak Round Two
« on: December 12, 2019, 05:55:33 am »
In September last year Highsider and I embarked on a ride with the mission being to reach the Rhino peak, which is a mountain on the southern border of Lesotho overlooking Underberg.

Unfortunately, due mainly to the fact that we ran out of time, our attempt at reaching the Rhino was unsuccessful. At the time we weren't too perplexed, because we figured that our failure gave us a reason to try the trip again, and I was confident that we would undertake the ride again in the next couple of weeks.

But as usually happens, life goes past at a hectic pace and over a year later we still hadn't done the trip.

Our Ride Report of the first attempt can be found here:

http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=229206.0

So a few weeks ago I floated the idea of doing this ride again and I got a very enthusiastic response from a number of people, including Highsider, Bullet, Dawie Roos, Beebob and husky, as well as the two youngsters of the trip, Christo and Gareth. Unfortunately Highsider had to pull out of the ride due to work commitments on the weekend of the ride, so it was just 7 of us that tackled the trip.

Reading one of Xpat's Lesotho Ride Reports prompted me to include a ride to Thabana Ntlenyana, Southern Africa's highest mountain. This we would tackle on the Sunday.

The plan was to stay over at the Sani Top backpackers for the weekend and use that as our base. unfortunately that didn't work out as there were renovations taking place at the backpackers and we weren't able to stay there, so we were upgraded to staying at the Lodge itself for no extra cost.

Dawie, Shaun (bullet) and Christo drove from Pretoria, Jon (husky) and Gareth drove from Durban and Rob (Beebob) and I drove from Pmb. We all parked at Shaun's mate's cottage in Himeville and rode our bikes from there up the pass. Rob and I set off together, as the others had got to Himeville before us and had left already.

On our car journey between Pmb and Himeville I had mentioned to Rob that I had seen a post by someone on Adv Riders SA FaceBook page that he had done the pass in 15 minutes.

While riding up the pass I had pretty much forgotten about the conversation, but obviously Rob hadn't. I don't usually ride as fast as Rob, but when we left the SA border he seemed in quite a hurry, so I just let him ride off and stuck to my pace. I had a quiet uneventful ride up the pass, didn't stop to take pictures or anything, but by the time I got to the top Rob was waiting for me, having already cleared customs. He casually mentioned to me that while he hadn't exactly raced up the pass, it had only taken him 12 minutes, but he thought he could do it a bit quicker if he really tried.

We met up with the others and checked into our rooms and before long we were in the famous Highest Pub and the Malutis were flowing freely. Unfortunately once we realized that we were being charged R45 per beer they didn't flow quite as fast  :(

From the pub we went outside to a spot where the lodge management had kindly provided a place for us to have a braai. We had each carried some charcoal up the pass in our backpacks, so we were able to make a decent fire, but weird at that altitude how little heat is given off by a fire due to lack of oxygen. Anyway before long we were happily eating our meat off the braai.

How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?
 

Offline Been

Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2019, 06:38:32 am »
I'm definitely following this ride!
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Offline OomD

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2019, 06:38:42 am »
Sub :ricky:
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2019, 06:48:21 am »
A picture of Rhino Peak from the Underberg side, we of course were going to access the peak from the Lesotho side



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Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2019, 07:02:01 am »
The plan was to leave at 07h00 the following morning, to make sure we had enough time to reach the Rhino and get back to Sani Top before dark.

The distance of the ride was a mere 60km, but the riding is pretty slow going, with lots of rocks, bushes and off-camber mountain slopes to navigate.

I got up quite early and took a few pics of Sani Pass in the early morning sun

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Offline IanTheTooth

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2019, 07:16:02 am »
Good to see you having another go, definitely a worthwhile and satisfying ride in many ways.
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Offline Matewis

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2019, 07:34:21 am »
SUB
“Don’t go where the path my lead…  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail…” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Offline OomD

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2019, 07:52:29 am »
Those are stunning Sani pics! :thumleft:
 
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Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2019, 08:14:16 am »
So we headed towards black Mountain on the tar, then turned off after a couple of km at the Sani Stone Lodge road to the left. We followed this good dirt track past the lodge and then hit a nice rocky descent to the river at the bottom.

Unfortunately i don't have too many pictures of the riding conditions as my camera was in my backpack and was a bit of a mission to get out each time I wanted a picture.

The weather was a bit chilly when we set off, but warmed up nicely throughout the day. I had decided to just wear a thin riding shirt and no jacket, which was a bit of a gamble if the weather had turned bad, but proved to be a good option. I really hate riding difficult tech sections with a big heavy jacket on.

Rob, Dawie, Christo and Shaun were all on KTM 500's, Gareth was on his 690 and Jon and I were on our veteran 525 and 520 respectively. Now there is nothing wrong with my 520, i think it's an awesome bike, but I was told by Rob on the weekend that it would be a mistake to take his 500 for a test ride, as I wouldn't want to get back on the 520 after experiencing how easy a 500 is to ride  :(

Gareth's 690 was a bit heavy and big for this type of riding, but being only 25 and fit and strong he managed it very well.

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Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2019, 08:17:51 am »
Some more pics along the way

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Offline caconcepts

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2019, 08:41:57 am »
sub. :ricky: :ricky: :ricky:
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Offline Grunder

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2019, 08:44:30 am »
 :thumleft:
Carpe bm
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2019, 09:35:47 am »
After another hour or so of not too difficult riding we decided to veer off our route and see if we could get to the side of the escarpment.

After a short ish detour we reached the top of the escarpment overlooking Kzn and the views were awesome.

A first for me on this trip is that both Dawie and Gareth had brought their drones with, and this stop gave them a chance to get some cool footage.

We had about half an hour break here, which was cool as we were under no time pressure whatsoever as we had been making good time.

You can see Rhino peak in the distance in this pic
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Offline ETS

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2019, 09:36:07 am »
Waiting!!!!
If i had to explain you would not understand anyway......
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2019, 09:38:33 am »
Some more pics from this spot

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Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2019, 09:43:22 am »
 :)
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Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2019, 09:51:40 am »
At this stage I was feeling a bit apprehensive

I knew there was a bit of a mountain ahead that we needed to cross, which I think is called Majoe Matso pass. It's quite a steep hill with a saddle at the top where you can cross, but there's no discernible path and it's covered in rocks and shrubs.

Here's a picture from Xpats ride report of the hill that I had been dwelling on in the weeks leading up to the trip

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Offline Edgar

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2019, 10:53:12 am »
Stunning pictures, it really makes me want to do the same route, just perhaps not on my Dakar :-[

 
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Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2019, 02:39:03 pm »
So the group approached the hill that we had to get over and we stopped to discuss the best route.

I personally dislike over analyzing an approach to an obstacle, so I just decided to head up the side of the mountain and see if I could reach the top. My bike did great, I cannot exaggerate the 520's ability to just chug up a steep hill like this, the motor just pulls and pulls. Unfortunately my ability did not match the bike's and when I neared the top I didn't take the right line and hit a steep rocky section that was pretty much impossible and I fell off, now stuck high up on a steep slope near the top. Thankfully Rob came to my rescue and helped me get my bike up the last bit as I was pretty poked from manhandling my bike on the side of the mountain.

Eventually we were all at the top of the hill and we had an easy ride down the other side.
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Offline JonW

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Re: Rhino Peak Round Two
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2019, 02:49:23 pm »
And then we had a short ride to the rocky outcrop that made up the Rhino's "horn"

Not a difficult ride, but not pleasant due to the constant jarring from going over rocks and the never-ending tufts of bushy grass
How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?