Heine's Ramblings and Rumblings

2012/07 Lesotho – Bo in the snow

Now with the added beefy goodness of Heinecam

This is an annual trip organised by Bud and Cath Morris. We almost didn’t go this year , because the 2 previous trips were quite disappointing because of the lack of snow , but I eventually had my arm twisted .

Friday 13 July

We left home at about 11.30 AM destination the Fouriesburg Country Inn ,

where we had been booked in with the rest of the group for Friday and Saturday night . Because I had only had Camper Version 3 (will add to mods page soon) fitted the day before , we had very little packed , and it was a last minute thing that made me decide to fill up the water tanks , throw in some snacks and the recovery equipment. This turned out to be a life saver, but more about that later .

We arrived at about 3 PM and although the weather was looking pretty grim , we were all doubtful if we would see any snow this year . After a fairly quite evening in the bar we had an early night , with the plan being that we would depart at 8.30 , for Caledenspoort Border Post and then onto Afriski in Lesotho

Saturday 14 July

After  breakfast at the hotel we lined all the cars up for a quick photo op before heading for the border post .

We were quickly through the border post and headed on towards Afriski . As we got to the viewpoint at the top of the Moteng Pass , the weather suddenly changed and we had our first rain and snow .

After a brief stop we pushed on towards Afriski , but as we reached the top of Tlaeng Pass , we saw a lot of vehicles heading the other way . We were told that Afriski was closing and it was suggested that we turn around and head back down ASAP.

So we all turned around and started heading back . When we reached Oxbow Lodge , it looked as though the worst was over , so a small group of us decided to stop and wait a while . This as it turned out later ,was the wrong decision.

Pretty soon the weather turned really bad , and it was snowing harder than ever .

We gathered up the few cars in our group that had stayed and  headed back towards the border. By now it was really coming down , and the road was already starting to ice up .

On the way back we stopped to tow 2 cars up the pass .

We reached the top of the pass easily enough and started down the other side. Shortly after , we came across the first car to go off the road , due to the now rapidly thickening ice .

We were soon caught up in a queue of vehicles , and after about another hour and 400 m of progress , the ice was so bad, that we decided to try get back up the pass to camp at the viewpoint. Unfortunately we didn’t get very far , before both Craig and myself slid badly on the ice. Fortunately we both managed to get the cars under control. After a quick family meeting , we decided to winch ourselves through the barrier and spend the night on a fairly flat piece of ground .

The sun set at just past 5 PM and then followed a very boring 14 hours of darkness. I ran the engine the whole time , and we were pretty warm in the car , even though the temperature dropped to – 10 at one point . The next morning when the sun came up , the wind was howling and it was still snowing , so I thought we would have to spend at least another night on the pass .

At about 10 AM , however , the sun came up over the pass and we noticed that the ice was melting very quickly. At about 12 PM we saw the first cars coming up the pass , so we slowly descended , passing quite a lot of (Car)nage on the way down.


Craig’s Report

Some of the less fortunate

What I learned

If you can’t walk on it , you can’t drive on it .

When driving on ice , the harder your tyres , the better . This makes it easier for the tyres to break through the ice to the surface below .

I noticed that chains don’t so much provide grip , as break the ice ,allowing you to get grip on the surface below. Also they seem to be more effective going uphill , because any wheel-spin makes the ice break up quicker. Going downhill you need to cadence brake to get the same effect (or so I’ve been told )

Space blankets are very warm .

Despite the cold , you need to drink lots of fluids, because it’s very easy to dehydrate .

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