South Africa - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 20

White Mountain

Tuesday 1st April

They were not kidding about the strenuous climb to the top of White Mountain. My legs are killing me and we will sleep well tonight. We started the day with a short drive to the starting point at the base of some foothills. There were about 15 of us altogether. The fact that there were some children in the group gave us a little more confidence that we could manage the climb. Looking up at towards the summit was already enough to bring on thoughts of cardiac problems. We started off well with the lead guide taking a very slow and steady pace that even I could keep up with. The pace didn’t increase much during the climb but as we progressed, the incline became steadily steeper. We stopped every now and then to catch our breaths. Some of us stopped a little more frequently than others.

When we finally made it to the top, the views were breath-taking and you could see the Drakensberg mountain range spreading out across the horizon. We saw several Cape Vultures and Crows flying around and managed to get some good shots of them. Of course, we were looking ‘down’ at them as they were flying around. Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken lots of photos of birds in flight but it’s always been from underneath. Today was a nice change.

The guide held everyone’s attention with the briefing on how to abseil and how to use the equipment. We all listened intently to this life-saving information. I was one of the first two to descend on the two lines down the forty-five meter sheer drop to the ledge below. It was quite invigorating and we enjoyed the experience immensely. Neither of us have abseiled before. For just an additional R15, anyone could hike the trail around the peak back to the top for another go. I was the only one who went around again. Having nearly collapsed with sheer exhaustion after spending the next ten minutes climbing the remaining, agonisingly steep few meters again, I fully understood why. Still, it was nice to be able to get photos of Sandy’s descent to add to those that she took of me hurtling down previously. My second descent down the rope was a lot faster that my first and my glove actually started to melt a little from the friction of the rope sliding through my hand. It was a lot of fun.

Back at base camp, quite a crowd had gathered to view the slide show of the photos that we took today. This is becoming somewhat of a routine and we are still getting lots of praise for our steadily improving photography. I’ve already burned a CD full of photos for the lodge to use in making a brochure and I’ve been given yet more CDs from some of the other abseilers to burn for them too.

One of the families that we met today on the abseiling walk to White Mountain gave us a lift into town to pick up some food. The restaurant here is very nice but the cost of the meals adds up pretty quickly and we can self-cater for about half the expense. Sandy cooked a lovely roast dinner tonight and we met everyone again at the bar afterwards for yet more photo viewing around the laptop.

Since we are enjoying ourselves so much, we decided to extend our stay again by another night. This will enable us to experience Giant’s Castle tomorrow as well as the fufi-slide the day after. The fufi-slide is one of those rope slides that you hang onto whist you slide down, dropping several meters over a long distance. It sounds like fun.