An experienced mountain guide and climber probably has his helmet to thank for escaping major injury after an 8m fall on Table Mountain at the weekend.
Ross Suter had taken two climbers up African Ledge on Saturday afternoon, before falling and fracturing his arm and injuring his head, according to Wilderness Search and Rescue spokesperson Johann Marais.
The rescue team and a specialist doctor took the cable car up to where he had fallen, and abseiled from it to access and treat him.
He was then hoisted back into the cable car and taken down the mountain.
“It was interesting because he was very calm and matter-of-fact,” his partner Lori Lake told News24 on Monday.
“He phoned me around 5pm [17:00] and said, ‘I have had a fall, I think I might have broken my arm. I am fine.’ It all felt fine. It was only when seeing the scale of the rescue that it hit home how hectic it was.”
Lake praised the rescue team for their work and reassuring updates.
Suter’s head was wrapped up in bandages, but he was on his feet and coherent.
He went for an operation on his arm on Monday. A CT scan revealed that his head was fine.
Suter has at least 40 years of mountain experience and holds rock climbing guide and mountain walking guide qualifications.
Lake said she was not yet sure what had led to the fall.
“At some point in any climber’s life there has to be a fall,” she said.
“He’s been climbing all his life. He is incredibly comfortable, careful and patient. He is able to slow down and be there for his clients.”
She said if he had not been wearing a helmet, the outcome of the fall would have been very different.
An outdoors man at heart, Suter was likely to feel very frustrated in the weeks of recovery ahead.
“One of his hobbies is photographing flowers and orchid season is coming up. That might be how he works his way through this,” said Lake.
From the wsar.org.za website:
On Sunday around 3pm we received a call from a hiker on the India Venster hiking path, alerting us about a stuck climbing party of three on Africa Face. A technical rescuer and a medic abseiled in from upper cable station and it turned out that the guide of that party had fallen 8 meters, broken his arm, suffered lacerations to his head and became unconscious during the event. The medic splinted his arm and treated his head injuries and he was then lowered to the foot path and walked a short distance with him to under the cable car, where he was hoisted into the car and brought down to the lower cable station. He underwent orthopedic surgery this Monday. We wish him a speedy recovery.