Climbing accident at Monteseel

A 22 year old female climber, broke her lower right leg in two places when she sustained a 2 meter fall while bottom-roping the route called Cain (10).  The accident happened at about 11am on Sunday the 30th June 2013.  The girl was not an MCSA member and was climbing with 3 friends at the time.

The accident appears to have been caused by a belaying problem.  Some members of the KZ-N rescue team were climbing just 100 meters away when the incident happened, and so rescue was set in place within minutes.  The patient was attended to by two paramedics and then she was hoisted to the top of the cliff and taken to hospital by ambulance.

monteseel rescue

The patient being hoisted to rescue. Photo by Gavin Raubenheimer


Climbing accident at Monteseel

12 Responses to Climbing accident at Monteseel

  1. Warren G Jul 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Well done to the rescuers and get well soon to the injured!

    It is interesting the different terminology: I would have thought “Back Climbing” rather than “Bottom- Roping”, but I understand why “Top Roping” could have left some ambiguity.

    I would argue that this was “Ideal” situation to be needing rescue as part of said rescue team was on the ground. For this reason I ask a slightly rude question: how long did the rescue take? I consider this an important stat to know.

    Thank you for keeping names discretionary as I am sure the belayer would rather this too.

    • Gavin Raubenheimer Jul 1, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      Hi Warren
      We got to her in about 2 minutes. From the time she fell till the first paramedic arrived was about 30mins. Then 10 minutes later the second medic arrived. They work on the patient for about another 30 minutes and then the hoisting took maybe 15 minutes.

      • Warren G Jul 2, 2013 at 10:45 am #

        Thanks for that Gavin- always interesting to know. I remember Steve Cooke’s rescue took around 3 or 4 hours. So basically if unfortunate things happen in local crags you are in for an entertaining afternoon, but if you get caught out in Wolfberg you’d better back a sleeping bag as things might take a while.

        it does sound like the blind leading the blind.

        Hope Storm gets well soon!

        • Gerald Jul 11, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

          Hi Warren. Steve’s rescue took a lot longer. It happened while the climbers were having an afternoon pint at the Hacienda, and when the waitress arrived, another was ordered to calm the nerves of the team about to put their lives on the line for a fellow climber. Steve lay on the ledge broken and shattered and in excruciating pain, but being a stalwart, caring MCSA member, would have understood, and indeed insisted, via his cellphone that the team finish their beers before moving in. This is yet another example of how valuable cell phones are when it comes to not wasting time and resources.

  2. Justin Lawson Jul 2, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    So it appears that she was toproping and got lowered off the end of the rope.

    Mountain rescuers came to the aid of a woman who broke her ankle and leg after falling 2m at a popular rock climbing spot in Drummond, west of Durban on Sunday.

    Storm Knightly, 22, had been with four of her friends when she fell at Monteseel, about half way between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

    Fortunately for her, a group of mountain rescuers with the Mountain Club of South Africa, who had been rock climbing about 100m away from Knightly and her friends, sprang into action.

    Gavin Raubenheimer, the club’s rescue convener, said it took about two hours to hoist Knightly up the cliff on a stretcher.

    “She had broken her ankle and lower leg and had suspected back injuries,” said Raubenheimer.

    Knightly was apparently lowered off the end of her rope and fell. The group were reportedly climbing using top-roping, he said. Top-roping is a technique in which the rope is thrown through an attachment at the top of the cliff with both ends hanging at the bottom end.

    “The one end of the rope is held by people while the other end is held by a belayer – who holds the rope using a special device.”

    He said the climber climbed on to the other end, and while they climbed up, the belayer pulls the rope using the device.

    Raubenheimer said he believed they may have run out of rope.

    “If they had tied a knot at the end of the rope, the incident could have been avoided.

    “It seems like she was being lowered to the ground but the rope was not long enough. It slid through the braking system which caused her to fall.”

    He said the woman appeared to be a beginner.

    “When a person starts out as a rock climber they are on a learning curve and find themselves at most risk. They are still in a phase where they are trying to understand. But the more they climb, the better equipped they become to avoid such accidents,” he said.

    • Gavin Raubenheimer Jul 2, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      I am not sure if it will really ever be worked out what went wrong. There are many possibilities it seems, as different stories have been told by different witnesses. She was not nessessarily lowered off her rope, but may have tied in-incorrectly and even one account is the rope un-clipped from the top anchor.

  3. Nic Le Maitre Jul 2, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    @Warren: How long a rescue takes is entirely dependent on where the accident happens, the severity of your injuries, the position you are in (on a path versus a cliff) and the weather conditions (day/night/wind/cloud).

    For instance if you are on Lions Head during daylight and with no wind or cloud and fall off the path, we can have a helicopter with you in about 20mins with a paramedic and a technical rescuer. 10 minutes later you could be in hospital.

    Ground based rescues will always take longer because resources have to assemble, access, stabilize, recover and carry off the patient. Mark’s rescue from Slanghoek took about 14 hours from the initial callout until Mark was off the mountain.

  4. Mario Jul 3, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Well done to the rescue team!!


    Where did this person get their info from?

    “Top-roping is a technique in which the rope is thrown through an attachment at the top of the cliff with both ends hanging at the bottom end.

    “The one end of the rope is held by people while the other end is held by a belayer – who holds the rope using a special device.”

    • Nic Le Maitre Jul 3, 2013 at 11:41 am #

      It’s what happens when you try to explain something using small words so that the reporters can’t wreck it completely. Then they write down what they think you said. Then a sub editor edits the story and writes what he/she thinks that the reporter thought that you meant and then it all gets abbreviated by another sub-editor to make it fit the column…

  5. Dave G Jul 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    What does being an MCSA member have to do with people having a climbing accident. True they were helped by people who are members, but other than that I don’t see why it should be relevant. Similar accidents have happenned to climbers who happen to be MCSA members and have years of experience.

    • Gavin Raubenheimer Jul 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Surely I don’t need to explain that to you? Take time and work it out.

  6. Dave G Jul 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Don’t get me wrong. The mountain club does a stellar job in the climbing scene. Point stays no proof that the fall was due to not being a member of MCSA. Just don’t like the assumptions being made, scaring people in to joining.

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