Mountain safety

Gert Coetzee, De Waterkant

For those not inclined to climb Table Mountain, Lion’s Head offers great views with moderate exertion, and the summit can be reached within an hour.

For this reason it has become a favourite for locals and foreign visitors alike, leading to congestion on weekends and holidays.

The path up is well trodden, but the last third of the climb requires some scrambling, safe if care is taken, albeit with a sheer drop metres away.

The statistics for the Lion’s Head climb are disconcerting. On February 6, a 26-year-old man plummeted to his death, and in January a woman needed to be airlifted after a fall.

In December 2014, a 25-year-old local man died during a walk with his fiancée and son. In June 2014, another 25-year-old man fell to his death.

In January 2013, a 43-year-old man died, and in 2012, a 27-year-old woman fell to her death.

The answer to preventing further unnecessary deaths is probably to make the climb safer by adding railings and chains restricting climbers to the path where it is dangerously close to the sheer drop.

Limiting the number of visitors is not feasible, but clear warning signs should be erected at known danger spots.

Surely, something needs to be done about this unacceptable accident rate.

Responsibility for Lion’s Head officially lies with SANParks (Table Mountain National Park), but Cape Town is the beneficiary of the tourist influx and has a responsibility to its own residents.

Is it not time for SANParks, the City (ward councillors Dave Bryant and Jacques Weber are the representatives of the adjacent area), SAPS, hiking clubs, and rescue services to meet and come up with a solution?

Comments, or better yet, action, from any of the above will be appreciated.

* SANParks spokesperson Merle Collins responds:

We do regular inspections of the installations (staples and chains) on Lion’s Head.

As a matter of fact because of the severity of some of the incidents, these inspections are done by outside specialists. The last one was in December 2016.

However, we have also established a multi-agency task team to once again assess the safety situation on Lion’s Head and to make recommendations as to how we can improve safety there.