Three hikers who went up Table Mountain on Saturday, February 22, had to be rescued after getting lost. After six hours of hiking in very poor visibility and adverse weather conditions, one of the hikers called the Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSR) for assistance.

The rescue team was deployed as “three locals were unable to proceed any further after finding themselves disorientated as the cloud cover engulfed the top of Table Mountain,” the WSR reported on their website. The hikers, one female and two males, were asked to take pictures of their surroundings so the team could get an idea of where to find them. They were eventually located off a path on the western side of the mountain.

A long and arduous mission ensued after the first team who abseiled down a rock face in order to reach the hikers ended up too far from the hikers and a second team was dispatched to abseil down.  “At this point, the weather deteriorated with a decrease in visibility, a drop in temperature as well as rain moving in. The wet conditions, the possibility of hypothermia and the concern of falling rocks were some of the hazards that were faced by both the stranded hikers as well as the rescue party. Due to these testing conditions a safe extraction by helicopter was also ruled out,” the WSR said.

After making voice contact with the hikers, the team established that a much longer rope and hauling systems were required. A third team had to be dispatched to carry additional technical equipment to the point at which the hauling system was being set up.

The 20-hour mission lasted through the night, and the three hikers and more than 20 rescuers were safely off the mountain by 6.45am on Sunday morning.

WSR urges hikers and mountaineers to always make use of professional guides, ensure you are familiar with the route you plan to take, and always carry warm clothing, a map, whistle, extra food and water in your backpack.

It’s also a good idea to check the weather before going and not hike in adverse weather.

For any wilderness or mountain rescue response, call 021 937 0300 or 112.

Image: Andy Wood


Article written by

Anita Froneman