Mountain Safety

Recommendations by member of the Search & Rescue team.

Many people do not understand the risk of taking a walk on the wild side. To put things in perspective. It is a little known fact that more people have died on Table Mountain than on Everest over the last 50 years.

Below are a number of points to remember when walking or hiking in the mountains in and around Cape Town.

The old saying hike alone, die alone is very appropriate.
Never underestimate the Cape of Storms, the weather will change when least expected, affecting visibility, temperature and rain. Expect a temperature variance of between 5 and 20 degrees between Somerset West and the mountain summit.
Respect the wild life on the mountain the most dangerous creatures are not necessarily the largest. Top of the watch list at present are bees followed by snakes and baboons.

Recommendations:

  • Always walk in a group; groups are less likely to be a target especially from the personal safety aspect. Avoid displaying valuables and food.
  • Always keep the group together and avoid leaving an injured person on the mountain unless it is unavoidable.
  • Always carry a fully charged cell phone with you, Use sparingly and remember that an SMS will get through where voice is not possible.
  • Wilderness Search and Rescue  021 937 0300 Metro Control. 24/7,
  • Let to know your cell phones capabilities some have GPS units others have cameras.
  • Aways plan your route, and make sure that your next of kin know when and where you are going, and more importantly stick to the route planned. STAY on the route
  • Always carry protective clothing to protect from the heat and the cold. Layer your cloths.
  • Always carry a torch or light as you may run late.
  • Always carry adequate water and other liquid refreshments ( 1Lt per 2 hours of hike).
  • Always carry additional food to support you for at least 24 hours.

Ensure that you are properly clothed for your hike. Sandals and soft shoes are not a good choice. Many of the winter incidents are caused by hikers who are not well protected and who get wet and when one adds the wind chill factor they become hypothermic.

Think before you step: stay on the trail do not bundu bash. Avoid areas where you cannot see where you are putting your feet down. Never step over obstructions in the path rather climb onto the object check the hidden side then climb down, snakes like to sun themselves with their back protected by a rock or trunk.

Like the child in the story consciously leave a trail in your memory if you have to back track.

There is a lot more information about the HH section of the Mountain Club of South Africa here.