After much debate and negotiations fixed anchors may now be legally placed on Table Mountain.
The first route on TM has been proudly bolted by Matt Tibenham and Warren Gans. The famous, (and sometimes dangerous) ‘Jacobs Ladder’ has finally been made safe.
In bolting such a TM classic they said that the decision wasn’t made lightly, but was inspired by the actions of locally sponsored athletes who see bolting as the future and progression within climbing.
With both Warren and Matt serving on the newly appointed ‘Table Mountain Bolting Approval Committee (TMBAC)‘ they have been the first to start the process of making the mountain safer. Hopefully other members of the community will follow suit and put right other existing areas + open new routes allowing routes to the masses out there who lack the ability, funding or inclination to climb such routes in the style of the first accentionists.
During the recent Tradathon on Table Mountain a climber who was seconding on Jacobs Ladder took a long pendulum off the traverse, leaving them stranded in an open void. After some time the second was rescued, but once again this illustrated the danger of the route, and potential dangers that can occur. As with the mandate (below) they also installed a lower off in the middle of the section should a party not be able to climb through.
Many thanks to Matt Tibenham of Drifters and Warren Gans of Ram Mountaineering for placing the bolts.
The MCSA steps forward into the future…
“We are in the 21st century and cannot be expected to be of the same calibre as the 19th century hero’s who boldly put up these routes: we have had no war, no suffering and live a comfortable life of heated towel racks, dynamic ropes and ABS.
We cannot assume that all mountain users are able to lead such a traverse? After all, there is a reason we do not climb with hemp ropes and hobnail boots any more!”
The recent bolting incident on Table Mountain, whereby bolts were installed on Arrow Final brought the matter into the spotlight and after talks between the various stakeholders and role players (The Cable Car Company, Abseil Africa, The Mountain Club of South Africa, South African National Parks, Cape Nature, Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, local guiding companies, Anchor Replacement Fund, SA Mountain Magazine and Climb ZA) the decision was made to allow fixed anchors on Table Mountain (within strict guidelines).
The main emphasis was for the safety of mountain users (Lions Head and Table Mountain already have bolts/chains installed). The cable car could not exist without mechanical anchors, Abseil Africa rely on bolts as do trad climbers to a large extent for abseiling back down to the ledge.
Another major factor was getting more people into the mountains to carry out adventure sports. Naturally there will be a large financial gain for companies, clubs and land owners doing business in such areas.
There is a Management Plan that will follow shortly for the installation of fixed anchors on Table Mountain (within all of SANParks land).
Climbers will need to make submissions for retro bolting and new routes, to a committee (consisting primarily of MCSA members, but also consisting of least two SANParks representatives) for permission.
Below are some of the conditions set out in the new bolting guidelines for Table Mountain:
Applications for new and retro bolting of routes must be made in writing, supported by pictures of the route.
- When retro bolting, route names may not be changed.
- Only <10mm 316 Stainless bolts may be used / preferably glue in’s, but this is not mandatory.
- Routes are to be made 100% safe, with any boulders smaller than 500mm x 500mm and other loose rock to be trundled (removed).
- Suitable paths to be installed to new areas, with an emphasis on preventing soil erosion and creating minimal impact.
- Climbers to wear bright clothing when on the mountain so as to be seen by tourists (thereby creating extra excitement for visitors to the mountain).
- Bird nests, other wildlife and archaeological finds to be avoided and/or reported to SANParks.
- Climbers to be ambassadors of the country and to speak (positively) to tourists/gapers (only when approached).
- Once bolts have been placed on a route, they become the property of SANParks, thereafter SANParks will be responsible for the upkeep of said routes.
- Routes to be made easily retreatable i.e. lower offs must be placed at each stance which will enable users to retreat from the climb should it be necessary.
- Writing or graffiti is not permitted in any form on any rock, cliff face, tree or other natural surface.
- Tick marks on routes and bouldering problems should be brushed off.
An application to establish a new bolted sport climbing route must be submitted to the MCSA in writing by email, fax or letter. The application should include:
- A description of the location of the new route. Maps, topo’s or photographs must be included. The description should be such that the route can be found by a person reasonably well acquainted with the area. Photographs should be sufficiently detailed that the nature of the area can be discerned;
- An indication of the nature of the new route including its length, style of climbing and nature of the rock
- A description of the environment surrounding the route, including: The nature of the base of the route e.g. presence of vegetation, rock platform, steep slopes;
– Whether any rock art /wild life is located in the vicinity of the route; and,
– Whether these is an established access path / route and if not, the nature of the required access path.
The Table Mountain Bolting Guidelines document will be released in the coming week.