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Roof of the Maloti-Drakensberg

Written by intrepid
Lesotho - Peaks
Monday, 22 December 2008 13:33

This article is an endeavour to document the highest summits in Lesotho, those lying above 3400m, which form the roof of the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains and of the whole of southern Africa.

If ever Khulu-chasing required heaps of energy, endless trips to the Berg and a good measure of insanity, the thought of coming to terms with  the endless sea of 3000m peaks further inland from the escarpment seems, well, ...even more insane. But in a continued pursuit of the Khulus, the 3000m peaks of South Africa, I could not help but begin to wonder about their cousins in Lesotho. How many are there? What are the highest ones? Does such a list even exist?

Not being content with simply enjoying a view of them from the summit of a Khulu, this article  is an expression of the pursuit of the highest of these lofty, lonely domes in the forgotten wilderness of the southern Africa's high ground. With a backdrop of meagre, almost non-existent documentation, I present this self-compiled list of the peaks above 3400m.

In my mind the Maloti and the Drakensberg are essentially the same mountains. The reasoning for this seems more obvious to me than that attempting to link the Berg with the "Drakensberg" of Mpumalanga Province (other than that they are both part of the Great Escarpement of southern Africa). It is not strange to observe that the highest peaks in South Africa and the highest in Lesotho have a strong correlation not just in shape and form, but also in geographical location. They lie very close together, and Mafadi and Injasuthi Dome are common to both lists. 

Those marked with an asterisk (*) are ones where an official name is unknown. In these cases I have for now borrowed a naming convention common in the Himalayas: peaks are named after the dominant summit of the massif to which they belong. In the case of Mafadi, I have used the name "Ntheledi", which, as I understand it, is the more common local name.

All altitudes follow the government survey maps except those marked with a hash sign (#), where no official height is available, and this is either estimated or measured by GPS.

 
 Rank Peak   Altitude

Closest

Drakensberg

Area

Associated

South African

Khulu

 1 Thabana Ntlenyana 3482m Vergelegen Mohlesi
 2

Thabana Ntlenyana II *

3465m Vergelegen Mohlesi
 3 Makheka 3462m
Injasuthi Mafadi
 4 Ntheledi (Mafadi)

3451m

Injasuthi -
 5 Thabana Ntlenyana III * 3445m # Vergelegen Mohlesi
 6 Makheka II * 3445m # Injasuthi Mafadi
 7 Lithobolong II *

3445m #

Injasuthi Mafadi
 8 Tsepeng 3431m Garden Castle
Mashai
 9 Khubetsoana 3425m Injasuthi Mafadi
 10 Ntheledi II *
3422m Injasuthi Mafadi
 11 Injasuthi Dome

3410m

Injasuthi -
 12 Thaba Putsoa 3405m # Vergelegen Mohlesi
 13 Ntheledi III * 3405m # Injasuthi Mafadi
 14 Makheka III *

3405m #

Injasuthi Mafadi 
 15 Leqooa *

3405m #

Garden Castle Mashai
 16 Leqooa II *

3405m #

Garden Castle Mashai
 17 Khubetsoana II *

3405m #

Injasuthi Mafadi
 18 Mangaun *

3401m

Vergelegen kaNtuba Peak

Criteria for defining these peaks were similar to those explored in the Defining the Khulus article. To distinguish between the two, I propose that the Lesotho summits be refered to as Kgolos ("kgolo" being the Sotho equivalent of the Zulu name "khulu").

Interesting to note that Makehka is widely regarded as the second highest peak in Lesotho, something not reflected in this list. This has a lot to do with how peaks are defined. Often lesser summits belonging to a massif are ignored. Within certain guidelines I have chosen not to do this, since the distinction between different massifs can itself be arbitrary. I use the word "massif" here to mean a complex of closely associated summits.

A collection of photos featuring these summits may be viewed in the Kgolos Above 3400m gallery of the Drakensberg section (visible after login). Please also browse our downloads section for related data.
 
More detail on these peaks will be published in a follow-up article.
Last Updated ( Monday, 17 May 2010 12:48 )
 

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