Makheka in a day

02 Nov 2019 08:51 #75425 by AndrewP
Makheka in a day was created by AndrewP
I have been trying to pull off a 1-day ascent of Makheka for a while now. 

For those of you who do not know, Makheka is the 2nd highest mountain in Lesotho at 3462m, and is found in cell AT:77 on the Geoseries maps. Or, in another way, once you get to the summit of Mafadi, head 8km into Lesotho.  This makes for a round trip of about 56km with 3500m gain and loss.  Awkwardly, you get a lot of running at altitude. You also get a lot of running after having done the big hill. This makes it a lot harder than Mnweni marathon because you need to switch between running and walking a lot more often.

Last week, I drank a few MTFU pills for breakfast and set off into the hills.  I raced up heartbreak hill, and took the NHA and Around the Corner Pass to the summit.  All the time, trying to strike the balance between going fast now and saving energy for the running later. By the time I passed below the summit of Mafadi, I was a few minutes slower than the time Ryan and Ryno took for their Mafadi FKT, but I of course had further to go. A strong, cold headwind was almost enough to turn me around. I persisted and in the end enjoyed my time out there. As you head deeper into Lesotho, the valleys become deeper and the scenery a lot more dramatic.

I have been to Makheka before. I recall a great path leading almost all the way. OSM (and thus my map) even shows the location of the path. It matches the GPS track from my previous go. And yet, once out there it was harder work than expected. I ran the bits I could, power walked the rest and did not waste any time on navigation. Even so, it took well over 2 hours for the return trip from Mafadi. The final climb to the summit is over some very broken ground - you thread your way through various cliff bands and encounter a lot of shattered rock. 
Makheka from a nearby summit

You follow a ridge line the whole way, so will never get water en-route, so I made good use of the river crossing on the Judge Pass - Mafadi path for both directions.

Cool weather allowed me to do this whole stretch on a single 500ml bottle of Game.

By the time I finally reached the escarpment again, I was very relieved. I may have a satellite tracker on me, but no rescue party is ever going to get that deep into Lesotho in anything less than days.
Looking towards Giants Castle - you are a long way from home

I had a surprising amount of energy left for the decent and made it back to camp comfortably. I even had a chilly breeze to cool things down in the valleys.

I am not recording this as an FKT - you go really far into Lesotho without any stamped documents. And at high risk because it is unlikely any rescue party could get to you quickly. This is just not the kind of setup one wants when people are trying to run fast. So, instead, my time will remain unknown other than I completed it in a day. I do however challenge anyone up to it to give it a go under these same conditions.

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