A daring rescue mission took place on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, on Monday evening… but unfortunately two climbers are reported to have tragically died, whilst a third, their female companion, was rescued and lifted to safety by a cable car, after 22h00.
Hundreds of tourists to the iconic mountain – where conditions were cold tonight – were left waiting for approximately five hours at the Upper Cable Station, while Table Mountain’s Cableway operations were suspended in order to assist with the rescue mission.
The three climbers were – according to unconfirmed reports – climbing Arrow Final, on the side of Table Mountain, when they fell. Update Tuesday 2 January 2018: It has been confirmed that the three – a local male guide and two female foreign tourists – were abseiling when the accident occurred.
One visitor to the mountain, Raynor van der Merwe, tweeted that he had seen “a guy receiving CPR on a tiny ledge very high up, on our cable car trip”.
In an update on Facebook at 21h00 local time, Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR), Western Cape, had said they were engaged in a large Technical Rescue Operation, below the Upper Cable Station.
“In order to gain access to the injured climbers, rescuers are making use of the cable cars from which a rope system has been rigged to lower medical and rescue personal,” WSAR explained.
Later News24 reported that the two injured male climbers had died, and that WSAR’s Johann Marais said the bodies of the men “will be secured to the cliff and Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) will commence bringing those bodies down” after all the visitors have been taken down the mountain. Update Tuesday 2 January 2018: Marais clarified this morning that it was not two men who died but one local male guide, and a foreign female tourist. He said the three “were abseiling and were each tied to the rope and all three of them fell the length of the safety rope…There was no more rope.”
Raynor tweeted that whilst he and other tourists were waiting, they escaped the cold with “complimentary hot chocolate in the cafeteria”. He said: “Morale is still high, temperatures: not so much.”
Raynor also gave a shout out to the Table Mountain staff, saying: “Much love and respect to the
#TableMountain staff for working overtime with a smile and doing their level best to make visitors happy.”
Table Mountain Cableway thanked “everyone for their patience and understanding during this time.”
— Hanti Otto (@HantiO) January 1, 2018
Rescue operation happening on table mountain. Stuck up here now for 5 hours. Anyone know what’s going on? pic.twitter.com/sUhUbkPsxE
— Tor (@TorFitzwilliams) January 1, 2018
So after being stranded up Table Mountain we made the descent ( in my Birkenstocks) and boy was it scary. pic.twitter.com/YnTyR5onSH
— Fiona Domkowicz (@fionadomkowicz) January 1, 2018
— Mountain Safety (@SafetyMountain) January 1, 2018