4x4 trail re­view

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

The Rock, Moe­ga­tle

The Moe­ga­tle 4x4 trail in the North West Prov­ince has long been known as one of South Africa’s ter­ror trails. In other words, a 4x4 trail where pas­sen­gers scream in panic, driv­ers scream in panic and 4x4s may not look quite the same af­ter they’ve com­pleted the trail. But for some 4x4 junkies, the stan­dard trail is just not, well, enough ‘ter­ror’. For them, there is a spe­cial route at Moe­ga­tle. They call it… The Rock.

There we were, stand­ing at the base of the in­tim­i­dat­ing Koos se Klim, one of the Moe­ga­tle 4×4 Trail’s most fear­some chal­lenges.

It’s a seem­ingly im­pos­si­bly steep climb up a mas­sive rock. A few me­tres into the climb there is an axle twister that has made wheels lift... and sub­se­quently caused the death of a few 4×4s over the years.

A young man was stand­ing

next to his Ford Ranger, at the start of the climb, drag­ging heav­ily on a ci­garette. He was next in line to at­tempt the climb. “Al­most there,” he said. “I just need an­other ci­garette.”

Fi­nally, he was ready, and he aimed the Ranger’s nose up the in­fa­mous rock. Off he went but at that axle twister… the Ford ground to a halt, all four wheels spin­ning aim­lessly. Down he went again, de­flat­ing the tyres more. Up he went again, with the same re­sult. He tried an­other 10 times, but he couldn’t get past that twister.

Fi­nally, and af­ter a calm bit of en­cour­age­ment from his fe­male com­pan­ion, he threw in the towel and con­ceded de­feat.

Sounds pretty ex­treme, doesn’t it? For most of us it cer­tainly does, yes. But there are some 4×4 driv­ers who reckon this climb is big old yawn – it’s just way too bor­ing. 4×4 Mus­cle Trucks’ Han­sie Coet­zee is one of those peo­ple, and to feed his need for near-death ex­pe­ri­ences and put his ex­treme 4×4 hard­ware to a real test, he teamed up with Moe­ga­tle’s Alex Fullard to cre­ate a new 4×4 trail on this same rock, which is known as Tsogwe.

A trail that is con­sid­er­ably more ex­treme than Koos se Klim or even other leg­endary Moe­ga­tle ob­sta­cles such as God’s Road, or Klip­drift. They call this... The Rock. Alex Fullard uses a short­ened and highly ca­pa­ble Toy­ota Hilux (solid front axle) with big wheels and big sus­pen­sion to guide 4×4 groups through the ob­sta­cles. When he ar­rives at the start of a climb and parks his Hilux and says “There is no way I’m go­ing up there, thanks” you know it must be a heck of thing. This route es­sen­tially starts on the other end of the Koos se Klim rock.

Coet­zee’s Jeep Wran­gler called Hell­boy, fea­tur­ing 40-inch wheels and more flex than an Olympic gym­nast, headed up the moun­tain. A spot­ter is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial, as are very low tyre pres­sures and a calm de­meanour be­hind the wheel. The long-wheel-base Hell­boy com­pleted the first part of the test with­out is­sues.

A sec­ond Jeep Wran­gler Ru­bi­con was driven by Lourens Raut­en­bach. This is a three­door though, and it takes the

“oh-my-great­ness!” mo­ments to new lev­els. Wheels lift high in the air in the shorty, and at times the 4×4 slid pre­car­i­ously side­ways, at acute an­gles. This kind of driv­ing is not for the faint-hearted, and it’s no won­der that Raut­en­bach has fit­ted a spe­cial roll cage.

With a few more “ohh­hhh *&%%&!” mo­ments on the way up the moun­tain, and with Coet­zee and Fullard work­ing out the ideal route be­tween the trees and rocks, the Jeeps fi­nally made it up the moun­tain. It had taken about three hours to cover a few hun­dred me­tres.

From this point, the route heads down ei­ther Koos se Klim, or via an equally chal­leng­ing route that is also only the re­serve of big-wheeled, spe­cial­ist 4×4s like these Jeep Wran­glers. Es­sen­tially though, The Rock route is based on the same rocky moun­tain out­crop that hosts Koos se Klim – ex­cept the no­to­ri­ous Koos se Klim is the eas­i­est route of the lot.

To put that into more per­spec­tive: Coet­zee takes great pride in the fact that he has never had to winch Hell­boy out of a predica­ment be­fore. That changed on The Rock... the Jeep’s winch saved the day and dragged the Wran­gler up a par­tic­u­larly tricky climb.

This ex­treme route is clearly not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea, and you need (at the very least) a 4×4 with 37-inch wheels, plenty of ground clear­ance, ex­cel­lent ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles, a winch, plenty of re­cov­ery gear and as many lock­ing dif­fer­en­tials as pos­si­ble. A dou­ble cab bakkie with a sus­pen­sion up­grade, mud ter­rain tyres, snorkel and bull bar will not live to tell the tale here.

Moe­ga­tle’s Alex Fullard will co-or­di­nate out­ings on the ex­treme trails on The Rock, and it most cer­tainly is not a self-drive ex­cur­sion.

If you, like Han­sie and Lourens, are bored with the same­old, same-old Koos se Klim, here’s a unique new challenge to take up. And a challenge it most cer­tainly is... bet­ter pack some brave pills, though.

Main: Hell­boy, the 40-inch Jeep Wran­gler, crest­ing The Rock mo­ments af­ter it had to winch it­self over the last hurdle. This is the first time the Jeep had to be winched. Be­low, clock­wise from left: A shorty Jeep is not the best op­tion on such an ex­treme climb… it tends to do scary wheel­ies more of­ten than not. Head where? It doesn’t look it, but it’s ac­tu­ally a trail. It’s a dog’s life. Watch­ing the Jeeps in ac­tion from the safety of the Moe­ga­tle Hilux’s bak.

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