Lions Head Chains and Ladders

The Chains on Lions Head have been replaced making the climb significantly safer and hopefully putting an end to the many accidents that have occurred over the years.

The pictures below are of the new chains being installed on Lions Head.
These new chains were put in place to make it easier for the public to get up the mountain and put an end to the constant rescues that were taking place.

All pictures courtesy of Kevin Tromp pictures from High Angle rescue and Access

Related Topic: India Venster route: are we liable for injury or death?

lions head chains

Our original assessment: Gallant efforts had been made over the years to protect the pitch.....

lions head chains

The installation was planned for the 7th September. We met at 06h00 at Kloof Nek, to prepare equipment to be airlifted onto the mountain. Add a caption The installation was planned for the 7th September. We met at 06h00 at Kloof Nek, to prepare equipment to be airlifted onto the mountain.

lions head chains

Generator, three really heavy duty Hilti drills , and much more.....

lions head chains

Courtesy of Air Mercy Services and Metro EMS, the Skymed rescue helicopter was used to short haul the equipment to site.

lions head chains

Safety ropes were secured.....

lions head chains

And then the drilling began....

lions head chains

A template was used to ensure that all the staples were drilled correctly.

lions head chains

As the staples went in below, drilling continued further up the pitch.....

lions head chains

Then the special epoxy adhesive was installed to cement the staples into the rock.

the old chains were cut away to make room for the new.....

The old chains were cut away to make room for the new.....

lions head chains

Marine grade 8mm stainless steel chain being fitted to the new hangers.

lions head chains

Time for a quick smile !!

lions head chains

In the setting sun, the last of the bolts was secured before Skymed returned to airlift the equipment and team off the mountain

lions head chains

On the 12th September we returned to load test the staples and bolts.  Jessica, climbs the newly installed ladder rungs…
lions head chains

All staples and bolts were load tested. (Direct outward pull of 600 kg's), nothing budged !!

lions head chains

On the 29th September we returned to install a new section of chain to the top section to make it even safer and more user friendly for shorter people and children.

lions head chains

Warren from the TMNP at the top section.

lions head chains

Engineering Geologist, Rayo Van der Vlugt, gives the "thumbs up" and his approval.

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The completed pitch.......

lions head chains

The completed pitch given back to the public........ Let's hope this measure will assist in preventing more accidents.......

18 Responses to Lions Head Chains and Ladders

  1. John Oct 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Nice work!

  2. Robert Breyer Oct 16, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    helicopter a drill in vs. carrying it up? this is Lions Head we talking about?
    people walk up and down in less than an hour. so to the chains it’s got to be all of 30 minutes on a bad day. and hard hats and uniforms to do some bolting? how many thousands of liters of fuel were burnt doing this?
    were the old chains and glue-on steps actually a problem? has there ever been an accident on the chains? yes they were a bit slippery but now there’s a staple every 20 cm.
    maybe the geriatric hiking club or the kindergarten association asked for this, but this seems all a bit over the top for me.

  3. RiaanV Oct 16, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Commendable intentions, but fail to understand why festoon the rock with steel when an easier way to the summit already exists. Also, the new staples et al might make it easier for inexperienced / elderly hikers, but will lure even weaker and less-experienced hikers onto the route, who will then be at risk of hurting themselves. The next step is ladders. Then my unsporty and infirm grandma will be fooled into thinking it’s ‘safe’ now to summit Lion’s Head, until the likes of her injure themselves. Then they’ll propose a sort of escalator …

  4. Derek Marshall Oct 16, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    If that was tax money spent, it was well spent compared to the normal methods of wasting it.

  5. Graham Shillington Oct 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    Well done High Angle! Thousands of people will have safer access to the mountain thanks to your hard work.

  6. Justin Lawson Oct 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    My opinion is that the chains will make the route much safer, no more bottlenecks and long waits for the person above you (people would also scramble around the chains to avoid the queues).

    Helicopter use: Large holes needed to be drilled and quite a few of them (the job took a full day). Big powerful drills were required and needed to be powered by a generator. Being flown in meant they could do the job fresh and get it done in one day (with the best tools available) .
    By making the route safer: it will mean less rescues which equates to less helicopter use (arguing the fuel thing here 🙂

    Owing to the number of rescues that have taken place in the past, there was certainly a need for additional safety measures to be put in place.

    Ladder rungs are much safer than chains (many people don’t have the hand strength required for chains) + the rock had become quite polished making it slippery.
    I’ve seen young people stressing whilst climbing up – the older generation didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

    Not to mention this is a very popular sundowners location, which means many people come down the mountain (coming down being more dangerous than going up) in an inebriated state.

    There is a similar setup on Table Mountain’s ‘Indian Venster’ route.

    Good job guys!

  7. Brent Oct 16, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    Well done to Deon and his team…

    as a climber I have always avoided those chains…they scare the $#!T out of me.

  8. Robert Breyer Oct 16, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    there has always been the bypass route if you don’t like the chains. clearly marked. used by many.
    and the stress is also part of the challenge to many people. now it’s just one step closer to Disneyland.
    i suppose if we all want to cater to the lowest common denominator, aka the LCD, then this is appropriate. so what’s next – steel cables and chains on Arrow Final? a.k.a. our own Via Ferratas on TM?

  9. zabullet Oct 17, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    I’m often up on Lions head and it extremely popular. Even though there is a safe way around, people inherently don’t take it and when they fall (which they do quite a bit), it incures huge costs to fetch them off. Its not as if a pristine piece of rock has been bolted. Its making an existing safety feature, safer.

    I’m all for it.


  10. Dave Glass Oct 18, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Many thanks to the High Angle guys for the hard work.

  11. Scott Oct 20, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    one thumbs up for a Via Ferrata up Lions head and TM.
    Make it shine from space!

  12. RiaanV Oct 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    Ja Scott, thumbs up for a via ferrata up LH and TM. Why bother with one of the 800-odd routes when you can pull yourself up on staples and chains. Make them hills shine from space! Mountains need to shine from space, especially with ironmongery. Arrow final needs chains and staples so that my grandma can do it too.

  13. Justin Oct 22, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Hold on guys, I disagree here. The routes are public highways, people were getting hurt and rescues taking place all the time.
    There are plenty of places in SA to go to be in the wild with no bolts around.

  14. agreed Oct 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    I’m with Justin here. The routes protected are high traffic paths. I have more objection to the new rap anchors on Bombay than this (which nobody else seemed to bat an eyelid at). Descent from the top of Venster is straightforward and easy.
    I guess people will never be satisfied, it’s either too safe or not safe enough. We’re all different and for the general masses, the new additions to Lion’s head are in line. What erks me more is that the climbers have a sense of entitlement to the hills and are happy to make decisions on behalf of those who might not be part of bolting groups or clubs. Did Bombay duck NEED rap anchors? I’ve had people slinging ropes in my face face more than once on that route by people too lazy to take the simple, easy walk down.

  15. Karl Hayden Oct 27, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    The walk down from Bombay Duck et al has resulted in significant slope erosion above the ravine. Far easier and more environmentally friendly to rap off the top of the route with due consideration for other parties who may be on the route.
    Thanks to Andy Davies!

  16. Speedy Apr 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I think it’s awsome to have done this. It makes it fun and now the whole family can hike up lion’s head and climb the chains together. The only constant thing is change people. If you want to stay in the stone age then do so but don’t get angry at these guys trying to make it easier for more people to enjoy and appreciate the beauty that the mother city has to offer. As long as everyone cleans up after themselves and no one litters I don’t see how this can be a problem.

  17. Brian Jan 23, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Thanks to all involved! I’ve used these several times and never had any hassle. Definitely makes it easier (although less challenging) than the old chains.

    To those who complained about this, please find something worthwhile to bitch about! Non-delivery of school text books, for example! As a tax payer I am VERY happy to see my money being well used. The helicopter was essential, do you have any clue how heavy those drills are? It’s tough enough working with them accurately while suspended on a cliff. Rather thank the guys who did this than moan about how it was done!

    And as for the elderly and the unfit etc trying them, that’s a pathetic argument! Your infirm grandmother won’t even make it to the paraglider launch point! No-one will go up there unless they feel confident about it! People know their limits! Besides, it’s more than two years since they’ve been in use, how many people have been hurt or killed there? Compared to before?

    Once again, thanks to the guys who invested a lot of effort over a very long day to do this! We, the genuine hikers in Cape Town, are very grateful.


  1. Lion's Head | Table Mountain | Cape Hike - May 31, 2012

    […] Once you have almost completed the spiral, and are back above your departure point, you will reach the chains and ladders. This point is also marked by a couple of large pine trees. The chains and ladders help you up — and are not too difficult to negotiate. For an interesting read about the chains and staples in place here with all the facts and some fascinating photos, read this article on Climb ZA. […]

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