Knuckles Pass South

29 Dec 2017 21:24 - 29 Dec 2017 21:51 #72530 by tonymarshall
In January Sue, Iwano and tonymarshall did a relaxed circuit at Sehla ba Thebe and Bushmans Nek, ascending Bushmans Nek Pass, exploring a bit at Sehla ba Thebe, ascending Knuckles Pass South and summiting all three Devil’s Knuckles, and returning via Thamathu Pass.

After ascending Bushmans Nek Pass on the first afternoon, we went to the old Sehla ba Thebe lodge to have a look around, as none of us had been there before. There were several ‘caretakers’ living in one of the outbuildings, and much to our surprise they offered to open the Lodge for us and for us to stay in the Lodge for the night, an offer we gladly accepted as it was likely to rain that night. The photo below shows one end of the old Sehla ba Thebe Lodge, and the view to the interesting rock formations across the nearby stream. It was an unusual hiking experience to be able to use the running water in the building and wash in the basin or bath and use the flush toilet!

True to the forecast, it rained lightly overnight and was damp and misty when we departed the next morning. The old footbridge at the entrance to the Lodge could use some repairs.

We went to find some of the stone walled shelters that this area is well known for, and to look at Irish Cave. Sue stands outside one of the stone walled shelters in the photo below.

There were a lot more of these shelters than we had expected, each with a unique character.

We also saw Irish Cave, but didn’t venture across the full dam in the cold weather to the cave itself. We followed an old road for a while, before heading up the ridge approaching Knuckles Pass South, surrounded by mist and just keeping to the crest of the ridge, which had some interesting rock features and ponds, as shown in the photo below. It was disappointing not to have clear weather to view and appreciate the surroundings.

Higher up we followed a trail close to the remains of the old border fence, but it was quite featureless in the mist. We had a sit down break as we entered the gully, before the trail disappeared and we headed steeply up the gully. Soon we broke through above the mist, and had a limited view upwards, restricted by the narrow gully. In the photo below we would follow the grass ramp to the right, which would take us to summit just south of the South Devil’s Knuckle.

A view back down the gully into the mist below.

We continued up the grass slope, with mist swirling around the escarpment.

At the top of Knuckles Pass South, the cloud and mist below totally obscured the view back down the pass.

The pass topped out on a ridge, and the view into Lesotho was open and awesome contrasting to the mist out on the other side behind us.

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Last edit: 29 Dec 2017 21:51 by tonymarshall. Reason: Correct photos

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29 Dec 2017 21:28 - 29 Dec 2017 21:30 #72531 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Knuckles Pass South
The Devil’s Knuckles were to the east, and were fortunately often clearly visible above the swirling mist. In the photo below the South Knuckle is the high peak in the centre of the photo, the Middle Knuckle is the peak at the left (with the pocket of mist below it) and the North Knuckle is visible in the background between the other two.

We headed towards the South Knuckle, and leaving our packs on the way to the saddle we would need to cross to get to the Middle Knuckle, began ascending the South Knuckle. In the photo below the South Knuckle is at the right, the saddle to the other Knuckles is below behind Sue, and again the Middle Knuckle is the peak at the left and the North Knuckle is to the right of the Middle Knuckle.

Our summit photo on the summit of Devil’s Knuckle South fltr Tony, Sue and Iwano. The camera is on the summit cairn, and the Middle and North Knuckles are visible in the background.

Descending the slopes of the South Knuckle to the saddle, with the view to the Middle Knuckle in the foreground and North Knuckle behind to the right.

Ascending the slopes of the Middle Knuckle, with the view back to the South Knuckle.

Again leaving our packs at a suitable spot, we summited the Middle Knuckle, taking our lunch with. Tony at the Middle Knuckle summit with the South Knuckle in the background.

The view from our lunch spot high on the Middle Knuckle to the North Knuckle, with the southern berg peaks in the background.

Although the photo below doesn’t show much of a view, it does give a perspective of the steepness of the slopes of the Knuckles and the amount of height one has to descend and ascend in moving between the Knuckles, in this case descending from the Middle Knuckle with the North Knuckle in the mist in the background, and the left edge of the mist indicating where the saddle between the two peaks is.

Again leaving our packs at a suitable spot, we summited the North Knuckle. The South and Middle Knuckles are both higher than the North Knuckle, with both being higher than 3000 m while the North Knuckle is lower than 3000 m. In this summit photo on the North Knuckle, the summit cairn is almost insignificant, perhaps indicative of the ‘lesser’ status the North Knuckle has compared to the other two.

Descending the slopes of the North Knuckle, back to our packs.

After getting our packs, we headed north into Lesotho down the slopes of the Knuckles, and followed a tributary of the Thamathu River downstream until we found a suitable place to tent. The next morning we headed up another tributary to the top of Thamathu Pass and descended the pass.

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Last edit: 29 Dec 2017 21:30 by tonymarshall.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ghaznavid, hikingle, Smurfatefrog, Dylan, Christinejvr, WarrenM

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