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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:11 pm 
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Real Name: Nic Le Maitre
Hi

I'm really not convinced that making India Venster safer will increase the traffic on it. The vast majority of users of the path are climbers and not tourists. The tourists who end up on the route are usually lost or failed to read/ignored the danger signs. The tourists are uninformed about the state of the path in its current condidtion and will continue to be uninformed about the state of the path if it is upgraded with a ladder.

We cannot ignore that the vast majority of the injuries and fatalities on the route occur at one point, and making that one point safer will dramatically reduce the number of incidents on the path.

Yes, people are rescued from other areas of the path but most of these are people who have merely lost the path. This can be cured by better cairning and/or some painted footprints.

One thing that should be done immediately is placement of a sign at the top of the path on Africa ledge which replicates the one at the bottom.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:34 pm 
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I completely agree with you Nic. Many of the yellow painted footprints are worn off, and constructing more cairns is a great way to help people find their way.

Additionally, a danger sign at the top should be imperative, which brings me to my next point...

A question for any lawyers on the site out there: Considering the fact that offers have been made to Cape Parks to make the walk safer, and offers made to even fund the operation, where the only reason it hasn't happened yet is because of their inaction, what are the realistic chances of laying a charge against the parks? A type of civil suit for instance. If it's possible, this might be a way to get some action happening wrt this.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:52 pm 
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JamesL wrote:
sorry ant, but I dont agree that adding a few stainless steel 'handles' such as those on Lion's head will make the walk [sic] "becomes 'safe' a significant portion of the Platteklip Gorge traffic will be funnelled instead through Venster".

It's time to act. If the 'authorititive', mountain owning body called MCSA is going to throw the usual behind this then it will never get done. Is there a way we can bypass these clowns getting involved and propose something to the Cape parks and get this done. All the route needs is a rung above the first ledge on the scramble, and a second rung at the chimney section, to pull over the edge or lower off it.

Who would need to be contacted and spoken to to get this ball rolling? The idea of needing to [sic] "'Sanitizing' the Venster scramble will also mandate the upgrade of the entire of the Venster path in a magnitude equivalent to that in plattelip gorge. This is in order to cope with the increased traffic. Not a no-go option, but this is part and parcel of the discussion." is the usual expected response from members of this club.

We just need to act on this, so people can stop being killed on this walk. Less talk, more action.
I anyone prepared to do this? I'll personally put up the funds to supply the materials.

Sorry, but I'm just one of "those clowns" so I don't understand what you're saying here. Are you actually offering to do something or just getting your rant on and passing the buck by offering to pay for some stainless steel rungs and epoxy?

Send in the Clowns :jocolor:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:58 pm 
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Location: Cape Town
I'd also agree with you, Nic. Even if a steel ladder or even if just a few rungs are added to the section, would in my opinion not warrant the change or removal of the warning sign at the bottom; or for that matter, the necessity of adding a second sign at the top. Erecting these rungs will not remove the danger completely- it would only limit it. It would still be possible to slip, especially if the hiker is decendling the route (assuming that the hiker would have to turn themselves around to face the rock, it could still be a tricky proposition; and that's assuming that the conditions are dry). I doubt that the addition of the rungs will become widely known (unless published in guide books, which I'd think would be a bad idea), especially not to tourists.

James, I think that going the legal route is looking for trouble. Yes, you may be able to win, but the process will more than likely defeat the purpose in the end. Firstly, suing costs money, and lots of it. For both parties. Who would fund the action to be brought against SANParks? I also doubt that SANParks is rolling in the dough, either. So, they are taken to court, and it takes years for the accuser to win, and SANParks are forced to add the rungs. SANParks is then so strapped for cash from the legal battle, that even less maintenance is done in the parks under their control, and everything goes for a ball of cow dung. And in that time, how many more climbers and hikers are seriously injured or killed? Yes, action is needed; and as soon as possible. There must be better ways, though, surely?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:26 pm 
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Real Name: Willem Boshoff
i've been rummaging through my "sent items" to find that e-mail i sent to TM management; seems that i deleted it (unfortunately) - had the mind to forward it on to the newspapers and let them get on with the business. i really do not take it personal about them ignoring my e-mail, but feel that, was it not for TM-management's complacent attitude, the young woman's tragic death could have been avoided.

maybe we can still get the press on their case?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:31 pm 
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Real Name: Derek Marshall
"If the 'authorititive', mountain owning body called MCSA is going to throw the usual behind this then it will never get done. Is there a way we can bypass these clowns getting involved"

JamesL, there is a way. Just go & do it. MCSA don't own TM. Go for it show us all how it should be done. You're the man!

MCSA Clowns, stand back for JamesL. This is the best possible solution. Give him space to show us all how it should be done. We can criticize & pass comments on what was done later. He also gets to take any liability if his installation is inadequate or fails.

Pity he's not actualy going to do any thing.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:35 pm 
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Real Name: Derek Marshall
India Venster route: are we liable for injury or death? No. It seems nobody is liable if nobody does anything.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:36 pm 
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I have never done this route but from what I understand via this thread there are sections which are equivalent to a solo rock climb. Shouldnt the sign suggest "rock climbing equipment is required on this route". Saying a route needs experience may scare off some people but it wont deal with the bravado mentallity of others. Saying you need equipment means that you have to step across a defined line (equipment or no equipment) as opposed to an opinion (I am experienced)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:19 am 
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I believe the lady was Dutch. Maybe she and her friend could not read English/Afrikaans. The chap that died earlier in the year was also foreign. Should the signs be pictograms in case there is a language/reading problem?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:22 pm 
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Real Name: Nic Le Maitre
Hi Wurgle

The sign at the bottom is pictoral and VERY comprehesive. I would say that it is impossible to misinterpret. They however walked up Platteklip (missing the sign) and were on their way down via Venster when the accident happened. The sign at the top is not so comprehesive. It simply states "This is not an easy way down". There is another problem however, the sign is on Fountain Ledge (which you traverse to reach Africa Ledge and the start of India Venster) and not at the start of the Venster path.

I spoke briefly to the woman's partner when he came off the mountain and he could speak excellent English so inability to read the sign would not have been a problem.

There is definite reason for SANParks to place a replicate of the bottom sign at the top of the route too in order that people who took other routes up the mountain are advised of the dangers.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:58 pm 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Went up to the ledge today to go climb a route. Seems like somebody has just gone and done something. Going up there tomorrow to climb again. Will take pics.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:04 am 
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Totally agree with Nic about the sign at the top. I had tourists following my party down a few years ago that had gone up in the Cableway and the one woman had semi high heel shoes on. We managed to persuade them to turn around and go back down in the Cable Car. The sign at the top should be a replica of the one on the contour path. Very curious to see what Snort takes pix of today as I am one of the school that does not want chains and ladders on the mountain. In my opinion, they just bring their own set of problems.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:30 am 
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AlexB-S wrote:
Very curious to see what Snort takes pix of today as I am one of the school that does not want chains and ladders on the mountain.

I'm of the school that doesn't want friends and tourists falling to their deaths because of there not being a few safety precautions in place.
Nic, agreed on the sign.
Mokganjetsi, we'll see what's been done, and being done about this, but I have definitely looked at the option of going to the press with regards to this. You're not the only one who has been sending them letters. It's actually a viable option and might just give Cape parks the incentive to do something about this.
It really is so terrible that people go out for a day in the sun and end up being killed like this. India Venster doesnt have to be a death hike.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:33 pm 
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Real Name: Nic Le Maitre
Hi

I will speak to a friend in the MCSA who liaises with SANParks about signage and get him to ask the to put a sign on the Ledge

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:36 pm 
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Hi Everyone

I just want to give my input on the tragic accident on Sunday at the rock ledge of India Venster.

Paul and I had just done our rock climb and walked around to the front of Table Mountain on the upper ledge when we heard a guy shouting from Kloof Corner that someone was badly injured on the rock band of India Venster. We went around and down to the scene and I saw the body of a young girl lying at the bottom of the steep scramble just under the venster. I made my way down to her where Paul and I did our best to assist the very traumatised boyfriend. There was another young couple who got there just before us, who were trying to assist the young girl, but by the time Paul and I reached her, she was dead. There was extensive damage to her scull, and her lungs were full of blood. There was no pulse or breathing. The young couple nevertheless tried to bring her back with artificial breathing, but to no avail. I sat with the young girl's partner for about 3 hours and did my best to console him. He spoke English fluently, and advised me that his name was Vincent, her name was Kathrina, they had taken the cable car to the summit and walked down India Venster where she slipped from the top of the ledge and fell hitting several ledges on the way down. She was alive for a while but he said her breathing suddenly stopped and there was no pulse. They were Dutch, and were in Cape Town only one day, staying at one of the backpackers lodges. She was the only child. The Metro Rescue guys came to the scene and airlifted him to the road below, then came back for Kathrina. I hope that something is going to be done as soon as possible to prevent another death, this cannot go on any longer, a ladder or chain with bolts must be affixed to the rock, if Everest can have ladders, then so can we....and Table Mountain has already been sacrificed to tourists for many years anyway, for those who don't want to see any bolts or ladders, can go off to the Hex River mountains. All this squabbling about to bolt or not to bolt is a load of crap, life if precious, far more than anything else, so lets get moving guys, and prevent another fatal accident. I feel that I owe it to Kathrina and Vincent to get things moving....lets honour her memory.

Gill Setterfield


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:20 am 
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It's traumatic when people get killed on the mountain. Absolutely horrific for the family and for anyone else involved, like Gill in the above post.
However...................it's a mountain. Any sensible person should realise that if you fall off it you'll get killed or hurt.
No amount of intervention (signs, handles and ladders, access control) will change the fact that people do stuff against their better judgement and sometimes pay the ultimate price for it.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:32 am 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Attachment:
India Venster Rope ladder 24 march 2009 web size.jpg
India Venster Rope ladder 24 march 2009 web size.jpg [ 134.92 KiB | Viewed 2030 times ]


This in my view could have and will prevent at least some accidents. Just yesterday I advised two ill equipped (one with sandals) and physically out of condition individuals to turn back. They were struggling up at 17h30 expecting to make it down with the Cable Car.....

The rope ladder is far from ideal but infinitely better than nothing until something more formal is done.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:36 am 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
The rope is fixed at 4 points to reduce stretch and to find the best direction. The top point is around a boulder, the lower three points are threads. There are knots and rungs. No metal has been used and no engineering. The rope can be easily removed or replaced without any damage. It will last at least 2 years as is...


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:49 am 
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In the spirit of the "The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum"

Should I climb this scramble, using the in-situ rope, and I fall because I could not hold onto the rope.

Who can I sue?
Sanpark?
The person who put the rope up?
The rope manufacturer?

Or am I responsible for my own actions?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:20 am 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
You are responsible for your own actions. Always. In SA your ordinary common law rights only allow you to sue someone for gross negligence. Everything in life is relative. Is it negligent to have a rope that there or whatever that may or may not save your life? Or is it negligent to not have a sign at the actual scramble?; or is it negligent to have nothing at all?

Since I started this thread 2 people dead and one fracture spine in just 3 months! Ask the family and friends that survive these dead people whether they think the rope "most probably" could or would have prevented the tragedies.

It remains unknown who put up the rope.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:04 pm 
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Hi Gill, your account of this accident is very moving. It could only have been horrific.
I have been climbing on Table Mountain for many years, and I personally have been lost a few times on this trail during white outs and storms. I have nearly slipped on this scramble too, and I have been there shortly after a person slipped to their death. I feel very strongly that something needs to be done right away. As SNORT pointed out, 2 people have died on this hike since this thread was created. We need action. The rock scramble on India Venster is illusive. Before you know it you're in trouble. Parts of it look easy, and from the top entering the first chimney looks like a cakewalk, but in fact it's tricky. The section this girl fell from could be protected with a staple type rung [as seen on Lion's head hike] at the top, and one more over the ledge.
Hann, I have read the comments you have made ad they are not unlike some of the other comments made. I see your viewpoint, but I don't agree with it. I would like to respectfully ask that you stop hindering the progress of this thread, where we are looking to try and prevent further deaths and injuries on this easily to protect section of the hike. These are real lives lost and your attitude towards this is disrespectful. It will make no difference to you if there are rungs in place. Furthermore, it will not increase the traffic on the route as the first time hikers will still see the sign and decide to do it or not. They will not know that the section is protected. How would they? These two were tourists who flew in a day before.
GBM, I for one commend your offer to help see that Cape parks do something about this. It will directly save lives and ANY way that I can help, please mail me. I feel very strongly this needs to be done.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:07 pm 
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Dear JamesL

thanks for your reply. You have clearly misread my message, I am most definately in favour of having a chain, or ladder etc placed on the rock scramble on India Venster. I cannot see where you misunderstood me. I am happy to hear that you are in favour of placing some kind of protection there.

Kindest regards
Gill Setterfield


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:38 am 
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Hi Gill,

I think you might have misread mine! The second half of my post was directed at forum member "Hann". I'm pretty certain you would be in favour from what you have been through.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:29 am 
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A ladder should be put on India Venster, if people are worried about changing the natural look of Table Mountain then what about the cable car, what about chalk on overhangs that don't get washed off by the rain? I don't know what the big deal is by putting one ladder on the section of India Venster where people have fallen to their death, my reasoning tells me that it is easy to climb up a proper ladder than to scramble up rock therefore you make the hike safer and therefore have less accidents?

Was there all of sudden a massive increase in people going up Lions Head when the ladder and chains were placed there? Tourism is Cape Town is meant to be growing every year so therefore won't the amount of people that go up India Venster natural increase anyway with or without a ladder? Most people going up India Venster don't have ropes with them, while the vast majority of people doing climbs on table mountain use ropes, so it doesn't mean because you put a ladder on India Venster a flood gat is going to open and you going to put ladders all over Table Mountain, as long as ladders aren't put on trad climbs on Table mountain what's the problem? Lions Head also has ladders on a scrambling part which climbers need to scramble up to get to certain trad climbs. A ladder on India Venster is not going to change the overall natural look of Table Mountain, just as long they don't put so many ladders on Table Mountain that it makes Table Mountain look like a piece of abstract art, which isn't going to happen.

My mind would be changed about putting a ladder of India Vesnter if there was evidence that showed putting ladders on a hiking route increased the traffice flow and resulted in more accidents. Is there evidence to show this?

JamesL the mountain club committee aren't clowns and I don't really think they care what you think of them.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:12 am 
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Some feed back that things are happening.

A meeting was held on Thursday evening between Wilderness Search and Rescue and Table Mountain National Parks to address the problems with the number of accidents on the India Venster route. TMNP have agreed to take certain steps to try and resolve the issues.

The problem is basically two fold. The first and most urgent issue is the high risk of people falling on the 'C' scramble section. Staples and possibly a chain are to be placed on this section to reduce the risk of a slip and what should go where will be assessed this weekend by experienced climbers who have done this sort of work before. Once the inspection has been done the hardware will be made up and installed fairly soon afterwards. While this should reduce the number of accidents it will not prevent them completely as people will still manage to fall off from time to time. In fact we had to rescue a young girl of Lion's Head in the morning before the meeting as she had fallen off the chains there and injured her back.

The second issue is that this section of the mountain is still steep and potentially dangerous and in fact there is only one easy way up the front of Table Mountain and that is via Platteklip. Many of the people who use the IV route do so without any real understanding of the risks involved and several do it convinced that they are on the Platteklip route. This despite signage warning of the dangers which people apparently don't read or believe it doesn't apply to them.

To address this issue the signage where the path from the lower cable station reaches the contour path will be changed to indicate only the route left along the contour path to the upper cableway station via Platteklip and right along the contour path down to the road. The IV route will not be shown. A gabion will be built across the start of the IV route so that it is less obvious and anyone wanting to use this route will have to consciously step over it. This should reduce the number of people who unintentionally take the IV route up. Some distance up the IV route a severe warning sign will be placed that will describe it as a dangerous black diamond route requiring use of rope and rock climbing. Hopefully this sign will turn back those who are not sure what they are doing and the black diamond symbol is familiar to many overseas tourists. A similar sign will be placed near the top of the route to warn people who decide to descend that way.

These actions should reduce the number of incidents in this area although I'm sure we will still have plenty of people wandering around up there out of their depth.

No doubt some of you will find something to criticise in these actions but at least they are actions and besides you have to have something to write about. Oh, and all of those who wanted to spend hundreds of thousands of rands on suing TMNP, why don't you just donate some of that money to them with the specification that it is used for the India Venster route. I'm sure they would appreciate it.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:40 am 
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Hi Roy,
Thanks for the update, nice to hear that action is being taken to make the route safer.
The gabion install is a good idea as well.
Cheers,
Justin

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:52 am 
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Roy, and all involved in this.

Thank you and great job.
If you need help, you know where to find the HH boys.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:59 am 
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I'm all for the skull and cross bones. There is absolutely no ambiguity there.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:15 pm 
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Thanks for filling us in on the results of that meeting, at last things are moving in the right direction!

Agreed on the skull and cross bones, black diamonds could also be included but wont mean anything to people not familiar with ski resorts.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:48 pm 
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That sounds as brilliantly comprehensive as one could want. Thanks and Great Job RW !


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