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Monumental Mountaineering Rescue: Table Mountain Heroes Save Stranded Hikers

Published February 27, 2024
4 months ago

In a display of true human tenacity and coordinated effort, nearly 50 individuals from various emergency and support teams collaborated in a massive rescue operation on Table Mountain. The Western Cape Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR), along with second-year Emergency Care Practitioner (ECP) students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), successfully carried out a mission to rescue a 53-year-old hiker from KwaZulu-Natal and her 28-year-old nephew after a trail mishap.

The duo had embarked on their journey up Platteklip Gorge but realized they could not make their descent. With the south-easterly winds in full force, causing a halt to the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway services, and no aid from the Air Mercy Service (AMS) helicopter due to unavailability, the pair found themselves in a precarious situation.

Responding to an emergency call made on Sunday, 8pm, 25 February 2024, a team of six rescuers first ascended to provide immediate assistance and warm gear for the stranded hikers. They spent the night sheltered on the mountain, enduring rugged weather conditions. With daylight, the rescue operation scaled up. The multidisciplinary team comprised WSAR volunteer rescuers, WC Department of Health EMS medics, Metro Police officers, City law enforcement officers, SANPark rangers, and dedicated CPUT students.

This Herculean effort, described by WSAR on social media, saw the 28-year-old being carried from the contour path junction on Platteklip Gorge. Remarkably, the day-long descent for the hiker's aunt was equally challenging as teams rotated in carrying her down the mountain on a stretcher.

As the incident drew to a close shortly before 5pm the following day, the WSAR team thanked the support they received from the community, notably Bacini’s Pizzeria & Deli for the nourishment provided in the form of pizzas which sustained their energy through what was almost a full day's exertion.

This operation is a powerful testament to the spirit of collaboration and community prevalent within the Western Cape's emergency response framework. The WSAR has extended their gratitude for the understanding and cooperation of the public, who were requested to allow the rescue team right of way during the operation.

Details surrounding the circumstances of the hiker's inability to descend have not been disclosed. Updates will continue to be provided by the WSAR as the post-rescue process unfolds. This incident serves as a stark reminder to all hikers to prepare for any eventualities and to always respect the mountain's unpredictable nature.

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