Lotheni Pass North Fork

06 Mar 2019 03:27 #74724 by intrepid
This is the official thread for Lotheni Pass North Fork.

Though the North Fork is a route to the escarpment, it is undoubtedly  Lotheni Pass South Fork that is the easier and more obvious route of the two (complete with trail forged by smugglers and/or rustlers). Oddly enough only the North Fork is indicated on the hiking maps, where it is also described as a "rock pass". I can easily imagine that this is one of those Berg misnomers, and that it should in fact have been the South Fork marked as "Lotheni Pass" on the maps - but this is just a guess and I don't know the history on this. Perhaps someone can fill us in. I have suggested the "North/South Fork" suffix in order to distinguish between the two.

I have not done the North Fork, nor spoken to anyone that has, but if you do the South Fork you get a very clear view into the North Fork at the junction of the two (which is about two thirds of the way up the broad grassy gully  shared between the two).


It would appear the North Fork is a narrow gully, with a mix of boulders and grass. It does have a section near the top where it looks like you may need to bypass it using the grassy slopes on the true left of the gully.


If anyone has done this route or has more useful info, please let us know.

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

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The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, tonymarshall, AnoukBaars

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09 Jun 2024 09:54 - 09 Jun 2024 09:57 #79112 by tonymarshall
In early March, The Real Dave and tonymarshall did a four day hike at Lotheni, ascending eNtubeni Pass on the second day. That afternoon, we headed along the summit to the top of Lotheni Pass South, and went down the top section of Lotheni Pass South to Lotheni Cave where we planned to overnight. Hiding our packs at the cave, we descended Lotheni Pass South to the river crossing, and then ascended Lotheni Pass North. 

We knew very little about Lotheni Pass North, other than what intrepid has posted, and I have looked up the pass while doing Lotheni Pass South, and down from the top of Lotheni Pass North when we went past to descend Lotheni Pass South gully access. So we put a lot of faith in my memory that the top of Lotheni Pass North looked like it went from above, with the grass bypass next to the waterfall, and the photos from the bottom of the North pass. Like intrepid, I don’t know of anyone who has done Lotheni Pass North, or of any record of someone doing the pass, but I am confident that it must have been done before, and our ascent isn’t the first but may be the first recorded use of the pass. 

The map below shows my track of Lotheni Pass North in magenta, with the tracks of the two variations of Lotheni Pass South for reference.  

 

We walked down the faint remains of the path to the stream crossing, and then up in the stream bed to the split of Lotheni Pass North, which is the gully on the right of the photo below. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

We did the pass with one daypack between us, with our jackets and water bottles in the pack, although I carried my bottle in my hand up the first section. The photo below shows me at the first obstacle on the pass, a chockstone, with the second chockstone obstacle not far above. We both scrambled up this obstacle without difficulty. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

We both scrambled up the second chockstone obstacle without difficulty. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

A view up the gully of the pass, with the third obstacle, another chockstone, visible just above the centre of the photo below, with a small waterfall higher up, and the main waterfall right near the top.  

 

David managed to scramble up the third chockstone obstacle, on the right (true left), in the photo below, and we passed the day pack up, but I couldn’t get up it, and he couldn’t assist me from above as there were no suitable support points for him that were good enough to hold me. I just couldn’t reach a decent hand hold above, and wasn’t comfortable using a dodgy hand hold while I moved my one foot up, and then hoped to find a hand hold above while ‘balancing’ on friction foot holds. It might have been possible to get up on the left of the chockstone with help from above, but we didn’t try this.  

 

So I went a short way back down the gully, and used a grass ramp on the right (true left) to bypass the chockstone. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

A view up the gully above the chockstones, with the two waterfalls above.  

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Last edit: 09 Jun 2024 09:57 by tonymarshall. Reason: Correct formatting

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09 Jun 2024 10:00 - 09 Jun 2024 10:02 #79113 by tonymarshall
We bypassed the low waterfall on grass slopes on the right (true left), and were wondering about what the upper waterfall bypass would involve. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

Below the upper waterfall, we could see a grass slope bypass as far as the protruding rock on the right skyline in the photo below, and hoped it would continue beyond the rock. We were nearing the top of the pass, and it wouldn’t be fun to have to go back down. We went up the grass ramp to the right, and then on up the flatter grass ramp to the rock. There is a small cave/overhang in the top right of the photo below, but it didn’t have a level floor, and was damp. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

David was ahead of me, and I was very relieved when he shouted back to me that the grass ledge slope continued on to above the waterfall from the protruding rock, and then it was a grass gully to the top of the pass. There was a bit of a scramble over and around some rocks, with quite a drop off to the bottom of the waterfall. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

A photo of me on the grass ledge, with the exposure and drop off very apparent. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

There was a bit of an ascent on some damp and slippery grass to the top of the waterfall, again with a lot of exposure.  

 

Above the waterfall, with the grass ledge bypass visible behind me on the left of the gully/waterfall. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

A view down the grass slope from the top of Lotheni Pass North, above the waterfall and bypass. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.  

 

Our summit photo at the top of Lotheni Pass North. Photo courtesy of The Real Dave.
 
 

Having done Lotheni Pass North, we fully concur with intrepid that this is a misnomer that this is shown as Lotheni Pass on the EKZNW hiking maps, as the south pass is the easier, obvious and more doable route. This has been corrected on the revised new Slingsby maps. 

From the top of the pass we headed towards the top of the Lotheni Pass South gully, and then down to Lotheni Cave. There was no water near the tops of the passes in Lesotho, or near the cave, so we only had the water we had collected on Lotheni Pass North, although it was enough for the night, cooking supper and some to drink. In the morning we went back up the gully access, headed towards The Tent to the stream for water, and past The Tent and The Hawk to descend KaMasihlenga Pass. 

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Last edit: 09 Jun 2024 10:02 by tonymarshall. Reason: Correct formatting

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