On Saturday the 28th of November I was attacked by two people at Wellington’s dome. They scrambled up to the top of the mountain, threw rocks at me and then cut my rope while I was abseiling. I was very lucky to get out of this alive.
Two of us arrived at the base around 11h30 and parked at the usual spot. My partner did not have much climbing experience and the plan was to walk up the gully and do the easy single pitch at the top. About halfway up I saw two suspicious youths at my car. I shouted at them and then they broke the side window. We did not leave anything valuable so after seeing them run away I decided to proceed with the climb.
We continued up the gully and after a short rest I lead the climb. I put up a top rope and started to abseil down the route. When I got past the third bolt from the top, a melon sized rock struck the cliff a couple a meters from me. It took me a while to realize what was happening as rocks kept raining down on me. Luckily none of them were on target.
The assailants then ordered me to stop going down, come back up and give them money while still brandishing rocks and occasionally throwing one at me. Somehow my rope had tangled and I was trying to undo it. One of them said, “I will kill you like a chicken”, if I did not give him money right now. Getting impatient and seeing that I wasn’t coming back up one of them then started hacking away at my rope with a big rock.
I have always thought of climbing ropes as being quite strong but it only took him two or three blows to completely sever it. I don’t remember falling, the next thing I knew I banged my knee and then I was crouching on a very small ledge somewhere in the middle of the route. They kept on throwing rocks at me.
Having no other options left I told them that I would come back up and give them money – I did not have any money on me. One of them held half the rope in one hand and offered the end to me to use as an aid in climbing back up. Obviously I could not accept this gesture and then tried to explain to him that I would tie a carabiner in this end, that he must pull it back up and clip it and then throw the other end back down. After much confusion I reached the top exhausted.
When they could not find any money on me they tied my hands behind my back and after some deliberation we decided to go back to the bags to get money. At this stage they still thought that I was alone. In the meantime my partner had quietly sent an sms to the farmer and she was making her way back down to the car. We had not spoken since the first rock barely missed me. I did not know how many of them there were.
Eventually we got to the bags and they starting going through it. They stuffed in their pockets a couple of hundred rands cash, my wallet, a headlamp and a multi-tool knive but left the bag itself when we heard voices from below. The farmer and some other people had arrived and were making their way up the gully.
This all happened in the span of four hours. The police arrived about an hour later in numbers, twenty or more of them stood at the parking area and looked up at the mountain. One of the policemen took my statement, some complained about paperwork and looked incredulously at me when I spoke about attempted murder.
Wellington’s Dome is an awesome crag and I would like to go climbing there again. However these reckless idiots pose a serious threat. I think it is only a few of them causing the problems and it would be great if they can be caught.
Christiaan van Zyl
Info on Wellingtons Dome
Forum Topics relating to Wellingtons Dome
– Safety at Wellington’s Dome – Comments made about this report
– Incident at Wellington’s Dome Jan ’09