WSAR completes four mountain rescues over a twelve hour period
At 12h50 on Thursday, 27 June 2019, the Peninsula Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) was activated after a caller reported that a hiking party was lost after missing the path in Union Ravine on the right face of Table Mountain. The party of six consisted of females, three of them from the Eastern Cape and three from Australia. They could not find the dedicated path, when they encountered a lone male hiker descending the ravine. This person then decided to hike further down in order to raise the alarm. Metro Medical Rescue Technicians, Rescue Mountaineers and SANParks Visitor Safety Patrollers responded to Tafelberg road near Platteklip Gorge. The Visitor Safety Patrollers were the first to arrive and became the Rapid Response to hike up the ravine towards the casualty party. Two Medical Rescue Technicians and two Rescue Mountaineers followed and while they were hiking in, the party was found by the Rapid Response team. Once the two search teams had met up, they walked the party out and down to safety at Tafelberg road.
The members of the party did not require any further assistance.
At 15h39 a second call was received from a different party who found themselves off the path along the India Venster route below the cables of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (TMAC). The debrief of the first call was interrupted to allow the responders to make their way to the LCS in order to assist.
By this time the weather had already turned foul as the cold front reached land. As four responders arrived at the Upper Cable Station via the Cable Car, the third call was received. Two rescuers hiked down Fountain Ravine and on towards the India Venster route in order to locate the two female hikers. This mother and daughter party from the USA were advised by someone to go “half way up India Venster Ravine to enjoy the view”. Not knowing where the half way mark was, they found themselves in a situation just above the staples. This scramble section is beyond halfway, which is where they were met by the two rescuers.
By this time it had already become dark and the hike back down the route proved to be a slow one. They later reached the LCS after which the ladies did not require any further assistance.
At 16h32 the third call was received when a 27 year old French female requested assistance. At the Upper Cable Station (UCS) on Table Mountain, the rescue team for the India Venster call was asked to split up in order to tend to the French lady as well.
A Rescue Mountaineer accompanied by a SANParks Visitor Safety Patroller hiked towards the McClear’s Beacon area after the caller had described a directional plate close by. On their way, a “WhatsApp pin location” was received and this endorsed the location of the lady. The person had hiked up Platteklip Gorge and intended to return the same way. She was disorientated due to the very low visibility after the cloud had moved in.
On arrival, the rescuers discovered that the person was well equipped and kitted out. In the meantime, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway had suspended their service due to the strong wind. The lady was guided into Platteklip Gorge and down towards Tafelberg road where she did not require any further assistance.
At 18h13 a fourth call was received when two visitors from the Netherlands arrived at the Upper Cable Station (UCS) hoping to board a Cable Car down. Since the service had already been suspended, they then intended to walk down Platteklip Gorge. They were advised to remain in a sheltered position while a response was planned.
As a rapid response, the SANParks member who had been assisting the French lady down Platteklip Gorge, decided to walk back up to reach the UCS. At the time, they were just above the Contour Path assisting the lone hiker.
On arrival at the UCS, the responder assisted the two female hikers to shelter in one of the small buildings. Rescue Mountaineers, logistical support crew, 4x4s and Medical Rescue Technicians were alerted to drive up to the Back Table in the morning so that a support team could hike to the UCS from that location.
By midnight, the cold front had passed and the wind had died down. It was decided to allow the responder to guide the two ladies towards the Back Table area. From here they were driven safely off the mountain by a waiting SANParks 4×4 vehicle.
The tourists did not require any further attention.