Well the climb is over……am so proud of the chaps, MOTH Hildegaard Coetzee “Kalahari”, recruit
and soon to be MOTH Grant Gregan and, especially Mountain “Guru” Roger Mantel for completing
the gruelling climb to the top of Mt. Memory and repairing and mounting the M.O.T.H memory
cross. That very hard task was a combination of Vasbyt week condensed into 14 long agonising cold
and scary hours on top of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. (The Sterkhorn,
Mt. Memory, Drakensberg, KZN).
The dense mist at times prevented one from seeing your hand in front of your face, the pathways
are just little holes in the ground to follow and stumble over from long passed through hikers
footprints, the shear drops down the cliff faces would scare Lucifer himself and then, you still battle
to breathe the thin high altitude biting cold air into your tortured over worked lungs.
What started out as an 8 hour round trip took close on 14 hours!!! This is not a climb or hike for the
feint hearted. Horses needed to be called upon to ascend the mountain to carry my fellow Moths
down who had been totally broken, cut and scratched from the unending jarring and slipping
received on the Sterkhorn descent. These animals were truly a God send and amazing. Their strength
and endurance defies the odds pitted against such tall steep and treacherous passes and pathways.
And they did it mind you, in pitch darkness with no light or reflection all whilst carrying a person on
their backs!! Many thanks also to the two KZN Wildlife rangers who risked a lot to bring our lads
home safe. They didn’t shrug when called upon to assist but, willingly jumped in and took up the
My climb down however went on a different steeper quicker path, it was more pain in my legs than I
have ever felt in my life or maybe it’s just old age creeping in? The 4 hours of constant slipping,
scraping and jolting took a huge toll on my knees and thighs. Three days after the ordeal and all of us
were still in limp and blister mode…..that is except for Roger Mantel our mountain “Guru” and
guide….this absolute gentleman who is much older than us three, is a mountain dominating machine
and unbreakable as a hiker goes…. we salute you Roger, you do us all proud!!
For all the sins I have committed and all the Hail Mary’s I cried out to the Sainted Mother and God in
pain upon that descent, I do hope the Angels where listening and took note. Maybe it will keep me
out of purgatory a little longer…..perhaps!!
I realised as I wondered alone ever downward in that dense mist in agony with no companionship
that, God places all of us in challenging situations every day and it is us and the human spirit that
strives to survive that determines the outcome of that challenge.
We will do it again of course, better prepared this time…….for the M.O.T.H. Order……..for our
comrades in arms and brothers who didn’t come home…………and…….… because it’s there!!!
Thanks to Moth Moekie who supplied the repair fittings and cables for us to carry up.
A heartfelt grateful thanks to MOTH Luddie Vos the Chairman of Warriors Gate and as such Mount
Memory inclusive for allowing us this unforgettable experience…..it was a challenge we would gladly
do again…..just let us get our legs back………
Better ‘Ole Shellhole