It’s not quite “Chomolungma”, goddess of the earth or Everest. It’s a koppie or small hill that lies in the north western corner of Marthly. But even small koppies have geological histories that can be impressive. “Chomolungma” and the other peaks and buttresses of the Himalaya have their origin in India’s migration from the eastern half of the great dark continent Africa , finally crashing into Asia. Ximpalapala was already here – waiting to be uncovered by time and erosion and I’m sure if India ever decide to make her journey a round trip she would probably still be here; she’s that eternal.
It takes about the same amount of time to climb this koppie as it does to watch an ice cream completely melt in the March heat and the western ascent is by far the easiest. If you are looking for a greater challenge then the east face is the route to attempt. Pepper ticks and a resident Black Mamba are the obstacles barring a summit, but if you have the courage it’s still do-able. ZaZa Gabor once did it in high heels.
Looking East from the top you can clearly see Rattray’s Stweiis Koppie with its imposing radio mast. West lies Branson’s Ulusaba. The lodge perched on top can’t be seen during the day but as dusk falls and the Drakensberg purples, someone turns the lights on. All of these koppies are perched on a great dolerite dyke that stretches its fingers from the great escarpment to the Lebombo Mountains. Some have been worked by man and some have been left untouched – I guess that’s human nature with its ever so random touch.
Those that are more in touch with energy than I am are aware of something different in the ether when you are on top of Ximpalapala. My notion of these things is still wrapped up in Thomas Edison stuff and high school physics. But whilst thinking about the energy of Ximpalapala and stumbling around on the scree slope at the bottom I had my own Eureka moment.
The scree slope is constituted of small particles that once were giant boulders atop the koppie. Over 150 million years pieces would have been torn from these enormous chunks of rock by the forces of nature and sent tumbling to the bottom. Each of those pieces of scree would have experienced the joy of kinetic energy or the energy of motion on the descent. Sitting on top they would have had locked inside them the potential energy that the journey would eventually realize. Scattered on the slope at the foot of Ximpalapala; the scree has lost both forms of energy.
Relationships are similar aren’t they? In the beginning it’s all kinetic: realising the potential that new love has. Eventually the giddy journey slows, love is spent and it all becomes a little stagnant. Unless you are careful with love and the relationships that you have they often end up like the scree at the base of Ximpalapala – broken and stationary.
Putting a pebble in your pocket at the base of the koppie and carrying it to the top returns its potential energy. Taking a climb up there with your partner and enjoying the view might just do the same for your relationship. I’m making a promise to carry a pebble with me every time I take guests up there in order to symbolically re-invigorate the relationships I cherish.
When George Mallory attempted to become the first to summit Everest in 1924 he carried with him a picture of his wife Ruth. He had promised that if he got to the top he would leave her photograph up there. He never made it down and left the first successful climb of ‘Chomolungma’ to Sir Edmund Hillary 29 years later. When they found the body of Mallory just a few years ago there was no sign of the photograph among his well preserved possessions and that has led many in climbing circles to suspect that Mallory did actually summit.
The 3 most famous words in mountaineering are apparently “Because it’s there.” This was supposedly the answer Mallory gave to the question when asked “Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?” Whatever he was doing up there and regardless of if he got to the top or not I suspect that all the while he crept around Everest he was renewing his potential for love and life.
If you come to Londolozi and happen to climb Ximpalapala – carry a pebble in your pocket and leave it on top. (You could do a photograph but I suspect that termites may carry it away.) Take a moment to commit yourself to renewing the potential in your relationships.
Then with a gin and tonic in hand and the climb of the hill behind you – enjoy the view from a mountain.
Written by: Tom Imrie