Mafadi

26 Mar 2021 23:13 #76648 by DonRuns
Mafadi was created by DonRuns
Hi fellow Drakensberg explorers,

We recently did a trail run up Mafadi and back to Injasuthi campsite and analysing some of our data on our return, I'm noticing that on all the mapping websites that I have visited, there are three things that I am finding tough to verify.

1. In all the links below, Mafadi is shown as being in Lesotho? (I am also struggling to verify Mont-Aux-Sources is in South Africa as this also shows as being in Lesotho on the various websites)
2. Where is the actual recognised Mafadi Summit? As it is a flat top "peak", the different mapping websites have the Summit Icon in a different position (some west, some on the east. And even the border seems to move quite a bit across all the websites. I have the co-ordinates as 29.2024° S, 29.3571° E. Can anyone confirm these?), and to confuse matters more, when you are on the summit there are about 10 rock cairns that have been erected
3. What is the confirmed height of Mafadi? I had it as 3450m, Wikipedia states it as 3446.1m (my GPS read 3452m but realise that this isn't the most reliable)

Look forward to seeing the comments

Regards
Donovan


1. drakensberghikes.com/drakensberg/drakensberg-gps-tracks-trail-running-fkts/86-drakensberg-trail-running/21-mafadi-ntheledi-peak-trail-run-fkt
2. fatmap.com/@-29.2030426,29.3558112,2042.6071184,-90,1.6773007,3430.3376429,normal
3. www.strava.com/activities/4989449021
4. www.google.com/search?q=29.2024%C2%B0+S%2C+29.3571%C2%B0+E&rlz=1C1EJFA_enZA756ZA756&oq=29.2024%C2%B0+S%2C+29.3571%C2%B0+E&aqs=chrome..69i57.1962j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
5. www.google.com/maps/place/Mafadi/@-29.2027087,29.3569372,332m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x1ef30ba79fecc1a1:0x40534d584e521bc9!8m2!3d-29.2023723!4d29.3570606
6. zoom.earth/#view=-29.2024,29.3571,18.7z
7. www.openstreetmap.org/search?query=-29.2024%2C29.3571#map=16/-29.2034/29.3578&layers=C
8. geographic.org/geographic_names/name.php?uni=-2018166&fid=5702&c=south_africa
9. www.suunto.com/en-za/move/donovan780/6058737db650526eec2dbe6e?imageId=6058ccdbbb46662e4f89a5ba




 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Mar 2021 01:01 - 30 Mar 2021 01:02 #76652 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Mafadi
Hi Donovan,

I'm not aware that any map is authoritative in definining the exact border along the escarpment, I don't think the governments can even fully agree on it. So I would take the variance in the border on the maps with a pinch of salt. The MCSA was involved in using differential GPS surveying equipment to measure the height of Mafadi, which was determined to be 3451m. I have attached a document I had in my folders, I think it may have originated from an articke in the MCSA journals.

As for which cairn on the flat topped area is the official one, it may be up to asking someone who was on the survey team where exactly they did the measurements.

Unfortunately for South Africa, we landed up with an official "highest point" which has a rather vague summit, and which struggles to meet criteria of being a fully defined peak. The only reason we pay attention to it is because of the political boundary which drew attention to it. Even the origins of the name are unforunate.
www.vertical-endeavour.com/downloads/download/6-drakensberg-peaks/113-mafadi-the-invention-of-a-peak-and-the-misconstructions-of-mapmakers.html

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

Please login or register to view the file attached to this post.

Last edit: 30 Mar 2021 01:02 by intrepid.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Mar 2021 08:25 #76655 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mafadi

Unfortunately for South Africa, we landed up with an official "highest point" which has a rather vague summit, and which struggles to meet criteria of being a fully defined peak. The only reason we pay attention to it is because of the political boundary which drew attention to it. Even the origins of the name are unfortunate.
 


I tend to agree with Intrepid's sentiments on this one - Mafadi's only actual significance is due to a line some politicians who have never been there drew many years ago. In my mind, the exact point that is the highest, or where the border cuts the summit ridge is irrelevant.

It is notable that by most definitions of a mountain used across the world, Mafadi doesn't even count as a mountain, it is a subsidiary summit of Makheka. Incidentally, only two country high points above 1500m don't qualify as mountains by the 7% prominence definition - the second summit of Ojos Del Salado in Chile being the other one, with the highest summit of the mountain being entirely in Argentina. Singapore's Bukit Timah Hill has 50% more prominence than Mafadi and it is only 164m high!

While Mafadi is unquestionably the highest point in SA - the two summits that are more important, in my opinion, are Champagne Castle (highest mountain summit in SA) and Du Toits Peak (most prominent mountain in SA).

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
31 Mar 2021 07:02 #76661 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Mafadi
It has been a while since I studied the topo map for the Injisuthi region, so correct me if I am wring, but doesn’t the SA - Lesotho border in the Berg follow the watershed (at least from the SA viewpoint)? And if so, isn’t that a physical feature rather than a political border like a line of latitude?
If the watershed is the border line, what is the problem with Mafadi being the highest land in SA? Why does the highest land need to be a peak?

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
31 Mar 2021 08:55 #76662 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mafadi

If the watershed is the border line, what is the problem with Mafadi being the highest land in SA? Why does the highest land need to be a peak?
 


A watershed is a geographical feature - but my point is that there is no geographic difference between the two sides of the watershed, it is the same mountain range on either side. The only reason that geographical feature is relevant is that it was decided to be a boundary between two countries 150 years ago (with possible tweaks to the exact definition along the way).

Mafadi is the highest point in SA, there is no disputing that. Similarly Cape Agulhas is the southern tip of Africa and Everest is the highest point above sea level on earth. These comments are all factually accurate - but the difference is that two of them would be equally true if humans didn't exist on this planet. However, Mafadi's relevance as a country high point is only because someone chose a watershed as a boundary between two countries.

If we consider Southern African country high points:
Angola - Mount Moco, 2620m, 1510m prominence
Namibia - Brandberg Mountain, 2606m, 1802m prominence
Botswana - Otse Hill, 1490m, 344m prominence
Zimbabwe - Mount Nyangani, 2592m, 1515m prominence
Zambia - Mafinga, 2339m, 895m prominence
Mozambique - Mount Binga, 2440m, 1328m prominence
Lesotho - Thabana Ntlenyana, 3482m, 2390m prominence
Eswatini - Emlembe, 1862m, 445m prominence
South Africa - Mafadi, 3451m, 111m promience

While Mafadi is the second highest summit on the list, even Botswana's little Otse Hill has three times as much prominence. Gauteng's highest point has 319m prominence relative to its 1913m height. Four of those are ultras - and notably SA has more ultras than any other country in Southern Africa (two, Du Toits and Seweweeekspoort) - but Mafadi is just a bump on the slopes of Makheka. For it to have 7% prominence on height (the Himalayan mountain definition), it would require 241m prominence. Even if we half the definition for an Andes 6000er, to get 3000m height and 200m prominence, Mafadi is still well short of being a mountain.

Using a database from satellite data of over every summit on earth over 100m (yes, I know this data isn't perfect and especially struggles with pointy peaks) - I ran a list of every summit on earth that fits the following 3 criteria:
1) At least 500m high
2) At least 200m prominence
3) At least 7% prominence on height

I came out with a list of 314k mountains on earth, roughly 2500 of which are in SA. That means the global average is one mountain per roughly 1600sqm of land. South Africa has one mountain per 488sqm of land, so roughly three times the global average, based on my definition. Thus South Africa has plenty of legit mountains which would be mountains irrespective of where people want to draw imaginary lines on a map. The Drakensberg has roughly 51 peaks above 3000m that fit my definition (most in Lesotho) - including Monks Cowl, Mitre, Cathedral Peak, Cleft Peak and South Knuckle.

South Africa has 22 peaks with at least 1000m prominence. The Drakensberg has 2 peaks with 1000+m prominence, but both are in Lesotho. South Africa's 1000+m prominence peaks are split as follows:
 - Limpopo 3
 - Eastern Cape 2
 - Western Cape 17

Bear in mind that I have systematically attempted to summit every non-rock climbing 3000m summit in SA, with just short of 200 summits above 3000m done (including ones in Lesotho). I don't think many people have done this nearly as obsessively as I have about doing this. I have more incentive than most to argue that Red Wall with its 8m prominence is a mountain. If you look at the list of mountain summits I claim to have done, you will find that less than half of what I claim is in the Drakensberg - simply because the definition of a mountain I use tells me that Cockade isn't a mountain: its a spectacular summit with exceptional views and takes effort to get up, but its a subsidiary summit of the mountain Cleft Peak. Meanwhile Cathkin, Pyramid and Mbundini Abbey Spire - the three summits that were most difficult for me to climb - all don't make the list.

I only claim 38 mountain summits on my bagged list, and on two occasions have done 3 mountains in a day - Durnford, Sanqebethu and Popple on Easter 2018 and Devils Peak, Table Mountain and Lions Head in November 2020.
The following user(s) said Thank You: GetaPix

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
31 Mar 2021 14:40 - 01 Apr 2021 05:45 #76663 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Mafadi
Thanks for your thoughts Ghaz. I wasn't expecting such a comprehensive reply.
This bit of your reply in particular got me thinking:
"the difference is that two of them would be equally true if humans didn't exist on this planet. However, Mafadi's relevance as a country high point is only because someone chose a watershed as a boundary between two countries."

But then I wondered whether this bit of your reply was also a human construct:
"1) At least 500m high
2) At least 200m prominence
3) At least 7% prominence on height"
I think I might have convinced myself that it is.

Nevertheless, what about having a highest point in South Africa (Mafadi) and the highest peak in South Africa?

As an aside, I have walked passed Mafadi half a dozen times, always on some contour off the top and not bothered to cross the highest point. I've also risked it on dodgy Berg rock and rattling abseils on the peaks and pinnacles of the free standers. So no question where my heart lies. Horses for courses.





 
Last edit: 01 Apr 2021 05:45 by tiska.
The following user(s) said Thank You: GetaPix, mike_crom

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
31 Mar 2021 16:37 #76664 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mafadi

I wasn't expecting such a comprehensive reply. 

I have admittedly spent a lot of time reading up on this topic, and discussing it with others, in addition to putting a lot of thought into it over the years. Mountain classification is a topic I find absolutely fascinating - I believe the term is "mountainnerding".

This bit of your reply in particular got me thinking:
"the difference is that two of them would be equally true if humans didn't exist on this planet. However, Mafadi's relevance as a country high point is only because someone chose a watershed as a boundary between two countries."

But then I wondered whether this bit of your reply was also a human construct:
"1) At least 500m high
2) At least 200m prominence
3) At least 7% prominence on height"
I think I might have convinced myself that it is.

 

The cutoff of what counts as a mountain is obviously very subjective, and there are hundreds of different definitions out there. The definition is obviously a man made construct, but much like defining what a different species is when assessing animals, there has to be a justifiable logic behind it. Classification of nature and the world will always require a man made definition.

My definition has been thought out a lot and has been modified by me a number of times over the years. Whether or not anyone else accepts it is largely irrelevant as it is a list I am using for personal purposes. Most prominence based definitions seem to either use 7% or a fixed number that equates to close to 7% - such as the 400m minimum for a 6000er in the Andes on the Biggar list. Either way - my point from my original post stands - by most mountain definitions used around the world, Mafadi would not be considered a mountain summit.

Nevertheless, what about having a highest point in South Africa (Mafadi) and a highest peak in South Africa (Cleft)?

As an aside, I have walk passed Mafadi half a dozen times, always on some contour off the top and not bothered to cross the highest point. I've also risked it on dodgy Berg rock and rattling abseils on the peaks and pinnacles of the free standers. So no question where my heart lies. Horses for courses.

The highest point in SA is unquestionably Mafadi - I am not aware of any evidence that suggests it isn't. My point remains that its importance is due to a country boundary, which is only relevant because of a line someone drew on a map. Country boundaries are generally fairly arbitrary (cough, cough, Sykes–Picot), generally not even being drawn in relation to population groups within the region. South Africa and Lesotho have a border that neither side bothers to enforce, well, for the KZN stretch anyway - and which hikers, shepherds and other people in the area largely ignore. Mafadi derives its relevance from the fact that it happens to be the highest point that is at least partially on the correct side of this imaginary line.

What I like about my definition is that basically every escarpment ridge counts as one mountain. While Mafadi isn't one, Makheka is. While Ndumeni Dome isn't, Lome-Se-Febulu is. While Walkers and Thamathu aren't, Moroke is. While Mlambonja, Matebeng, Wilson, Bollard and Mashai aren't, Tsepeng is.

The top 5 highest mountains in SA, by my definition, are:
1) Champagne
2) Popple
3) Redi
4) Sanqebethu
5) Durnford
The following user(s) said Thank You: LouislG

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
31 Mar 2021 18:23 #76665 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Mafadi
That distinction Ghaz made in that last post with 'mountains' makes a lot of sense to me.
 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
Powered by Kunena Forum