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Drakensberg Grand Traverse 2014


The Drakensberg Grand Traverse is the mother of all 'Berg hikes.  From Sentinel car park in the north to Bushman's Nek Border Post in the south, it's roughly 220km across the main range - a trek that takes a strong hiker anywhere between 6 to 10 days to complete.

Blowing the old record out of the water with the hugest of cannonball leaps, South Africans Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel successfully set a new Drakensberg Grand Traverse speed record of 41 hours and 49 minutes.

Ryno Griesel himself and Cobus van Zyl held the previous record of 60 hours, 29 minutes, and 30 seconds which the pair set in April 2010 and with an adventure-racing, speed-hiking approach over the famous Drakensberg Escarpment, a seemingly unending buttress of rock reaching a high point of 3,482 meters/11,423 feet and spanning the border between South Africa and Lesotho.

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT) has no set route and is largely off trail. Most people will cover in the vicinity of 210 kilometers/130 miles and climb more than 9,000 meters/29,500 feet. The DGT is seen as a backpacking destination for the very fit and experienced, and DGT recreation-ers have, through time, created a set of ‘standards’ defining a legitimate traverse. In short, you have to pass/get through eight locations, what DGT-ers refer to as checkpoints:

  1. Climb the chain ladders at Sentinel Peak
  2. Summit Mont-aux-Sources
  3. Summit Cleft Peak
  4. Summit Champagne Castle
  5. Summit Mafadi
  6. Summit Giants Castle
  7. Summit Thabana Ntlenyana
  8. Descend Thamathu Pass

To set their record, Ryan and Ryno passed all these checkpoints, starting at the Sentinel car park and ending at Bushman’s Nek Border Post. Finally, Ryan and Ryno traveled in the self-supported style that’s been used during previous record attempts. GPS units and maps are permitted under the DGT gentleman/woman’s agreement.

*Pictures courtesy of Kelvin Trautman Photography / Red Bull Content Pool