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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:23 am 
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Location: Cape Town
The Red Cross Air Mercy Services helicopter narrowly avoided a catastrophic accident yesterday when they encountered a rope that had been strung across the span of Kasteelspoort while conducting a rescue operation. Hitting this rope would almost certainly have resulted in the helicopter crashing. The heli usually carries two crew members, and two rescuers on such operations.

I know that a few guys have been doing slack lining on various parts of the mountain, and I'm concerned that either they are still doing it, or others have now taken it up.

It almost goes without saying that this poses an extreme danger to helicopters flying rescue missions, as they often fly close to the mountain and spotting a rope from the air is actually incredibly difficult.

I must make the strongest appeal that if anyone knows who these guys are (I have the names of the people who started up this project last year) then PLEASE let them know that they are endangering the lives of rescue personnel, as well as affecting the ability of rescue services to function in the area.

In conversation with the Park I've discovered that this activity is not permitted. Whether one agrees with that or not is irrelevant, of more concern is the danger in which this activity puts the crews of the aircraft.

If the people responsible for this would like more information, or cannot fully comprehend the risk, I invite them to contact me to discuss it. I will guarantee anonymity; I'm not in the game of shopping anyone here - I just want to eliminate this risk. And yes, it is often me in that aircraft too, so I have a personal stake in solving this issue.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:19 am 
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Real Name: Warren Gans
Wasn't me.

but not sure why anyone would pick that pass as there are many better on the mountain for highlines. I don't know any local slackliner capable of such lines- we are talking over 50m here! Also the wind hasn't been playing nice of late for a long highline, this is why i tend to walk less in summer. my guess is it was someones tyrolean.

on a more serious note who would be liable for an accident like this? I can't believe one could blame a slackliner/tyroneaner for the disaster: how regulary do helicopters fly thru passes around TM?

I am trying to get and keep incoontact of all active highliners in CTN/RSA, but as there are so few of us far apart and there isn't a community per say this is hard

Is great how people automaticaly blame another group tho :arrow:

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:35 am 
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Hey Warren
Thanks for the info. Yes, it could well be a tyrolean, and yes, it's a long span. And no, I wasn't apportioning 'blame' for anything. All I'm trying to do is prevent a serious disaster. As this may involve me personally (or my friends) I'm taking it seriously indeed, and will do whatever is necessary. So if it hurts someone's feelings then so be it.

The frequency of rescues involving helicopters on the mountain is increasing. We're in the high season for rescues at this time of year too, and several calls on a weekend is common. A chopper flying up a ravine may be searching for lost or injured people, or preparing to hoist teams onto (or off) the ground, which is why they will fly low. They are terribly vulnerable to lines, even if it is a nylon rope.

My fear is that people are rigging lines (for whatever reason) spanning gorges and then leaving them there, perhaps to return the next day. Night operations involving helicopters are unusual but not impossible: we have had several in recent years. Helis used for this will typically carry a complement of eight to ten people plus a crew of three, and they will most certainly NOT see a rope across a gorge at night at all. The potential for loss of all lives on board in the event of a crash is real.

Please just keep your ear to the ground on this, I appreciate that people may be doing this in all innocence, not realising the risk to which they may be placing others.
Again, thanks for the mail.
B


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:10 pm 
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Hey Brent

A big thanks to you guys for the great work.

If we were to come across lines like this who should we notify and is cutting it down justified.

regards

Wayne

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:21 pm 
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One could probably disconnect the line without damaging anything. My suggestion would be to notify someone from Parks, their numbers are all over the signboarding on the mountain. Although the info may not be passed on to the crew at AMS. But you could always let me know and I'll make sure the pilots get the intel.

At this stage I'm still trying to determine who set up the line at KP so we can just explain the risks. And maybe save their equipment from confiscation by Parks (although that may already be too late).

b


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:37 pm 
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Real Name: Warren Gans
Wayne73 wrote:
If we were to come across lines like this who should we notify and is cutting it down justified.



I have put up project highlines before, but never in such public places. To leave a line up under tention is silly as prolonged force would damage the rigging and the line, never mind theft issues or evil people/wind damaging the line. If i were leaving up a project line i would just leave a piece of string across the gap as it is cheap and saves the hours of getting the line across. I would be surprized if a string posed a risk to a chopper either.

Most of the tension put in the line happens while tensioning, not walking, and cutting a line would require very little effort. in reality if there is a line up and no one is with it you could probably pull in a bit and unclip it, although you may find there are two lines on independant anchors and so would probably have to do the same to both. If the line was left under tension over distances like Kasteelpoort it would be just as difficult to release tension as to install it, and -other then cutting it- it would be impossible without the tensionining system. Most likely you will find one end is a simple anchor while the other is the complecated tensioning side.

As to the question of whether cutting it is justified, well thats for you to decide, my only request is that if you do decide to cut it don't do half a job and leave the line in place having failed to cut thru: that is manslaughter

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:55 am 
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FYI, even a piece of string across a ravine can take down a chopper. Airborne baseball caps and small jackets have been known to take down even the biggest miliatary choppers. Go google Utube if you don't believe this or have a morbid fascination.

I'm all for getting on with things without burocracy if if doesn't hurt anyone - but please be aware that these lines pose an immense danger, and rescue aircraft do frequent some surprising places.

If this line had been up last Thursday it would have been me.

ant


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:58 am 
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Real Name: Justin Lawson
"Most of us have probably realized by now that Table Mountain is a restricted fly zone, with rescue helicopters from AMS and the Air Force as well as fire bombers from Working on Fire regularly flying about at low altitudes. These rigging set ups constitute not only an illegal structure on the mountain, but also pose an extreme danger to aircraft operating on the mountain as they are very hard to see".

Read more here:
Slacklines in SANPark Areas

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:31 pm 
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Real Name: Warren Gans
Justin wrote:
"[i] These rigging set ups constitute not only an illegal structure on the mountain/u][/url]


with this in mind can someone please explain to me how a slackline/highline is different from a trad anchor system? surely they would both be illigal structures then?

I need to talk to San Parks and the chopper people about a sustainable solution. I spoke the Hugh and he said the line was about 400m long! the longest slackline (in a park) walked as about 300m, and the longest highline was over 100m. unless this was a foreigner- or someone who avoids me- I can't believe it was a slackline.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:26 am 
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Not sure who you spoke to ("Hugh"?), but it seems that estimates of the length of the line vary. It's not always easy to judge distance unless you have a laser rangefinder, so I wouldn't take 400m as gospel. I know of only one group who has ropes that're even close to that length (that would be the MCSA rescue team - 360m).

The line could have been put up for a number of reasons. Slacklining is only one, and it seems like this isn't the case here.

The Park tends to be very vague with it's rules. An "illegal structure" probably has a broad definition. Don't read too much into that.

Mail me if you'd like to be put in touch with the Red Cross AMS heli pilots. Contact with the air force is rather more complex, but I can facilitate that for you if you have specific requests/info that you'd like to pass on to them.

cheers
Brent


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