On Saturday 22 February, three locals reportedly found themselves disorientated after the famous “tablecloth” engulfed the top of Table Mountain.
Rescuers undertook a 20-hour mission to retrieve three local hikers, 51 and 28-year-old males and a woman who reportedly started their hike at 4:30 am on Saturday. A mere six hours later Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) received a distress call asking for emergency rescue services to be activated as the cloud had rolled in.
“A rough position was made using pictures that they were asked to take and forward to the incident commander. An incident command post (ICP) was set up at the lower cable station (LCS) on Tafelberg Road. From here the first team made their way up the mountain via the cable car in order to locate the party, which was stuck off the path on the western side of Table Mountain,” WSAR said in a statement.
According to the WSAR statement, “the second team began securing anchor points at a new position, and when they managed to obtain voice contact with the hikers, it was learnt that much longer rope and hauling systems were required. A third team was then dispatched to carry additional technical equipment to the point at which the hauling system was being set up.”
As a result of the adverse weather conditions and the fact that the cable way and rescue helicopter could not be used, the rescue effort was an extended one, lasting through the night.
By 6:45 am on Sunday, the three hikers and a team of more than 20 rescuers were safely off the mountain.
WSAR has urged the public to make use of professional guides; to be familiar with the intended route they would like to take; to carry warm clothing, a map, whistle, extra food and water; and to choose a route suitable for all hikers.