Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Death on the mountain

It was confirmed today. A man fell to his death on Platteklip Gorge on Sunday evening.
Still glowing from our walk in the morning, we were sitting on the deck in the late afternoon when we saw the helicopters. Always a bad sign. And it happens surprisingly often late on a Sunday or Saturday. “Someone has fallen down the mountain again,” I said to Jannie.
You usually get a sense of how serious it is by watching the helicopters. This time there were two or three and they kept buzzing at the top of Platteklip for a long time. This looked serious. The following day the Cape Times reported that a man had fallen off the top of Platteklip Gorge, in front of hikers who were on their way up the mountain. Everyone was traumatised by the fact that the man seemed to have died instantly.
But today’s paper had a slightly different slant on the story. It seemed the man had committed suicide and the medics had found two suicide notes. One was on the 67-year old man’s body and another in a backpack found close to where he jumped off.
People die on Table Mountain every year. Sometimes I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. One baking Sunday morning we met a family from the Free State with some young children at the bottom of Platteklip Gorge. They asked us for directions. They were dressed in flip-flops, only a few had hats and they didn’t have enough water. Jannie convinced them to take an alternative route along the contour path.
We often get asked for directions – do we look that local? – and it’s usually a sure sign that the hikers are unprepared. But we’ve also learnt that you can’t just tell someone off. Like the guy with the blonde ponytail who was leading a gang of young girls in jeans and sandals up India Venster. He did not appreciate our warnings that it’s a dangerous route. Fortunately there were no helicopters that time...



alistair.pott said...
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alistair.pott said...

I was one of the hikers that saw the fall. Here is my account.