Dragons Wrath 2008

05 Feb 2008 20:26 #55 by domsmooth
Dragons Wrath 2008 was created by domsmooth
February 05, 2008, 16:30

A search is underway near Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg Mountains for a 73-year-old Scottish tourist, the Mountain Rescue Club of South Africa (MSCA) said today.

Rescue organiser Andy Wood said Michael Hetherington was believed to have last been seen on Saturday looking for directions to Cathedral Peak. Wood said Hetherington had checked into the Didima Camp near Cathedral Peak on Friday afternoon where he had signed the rescue register.

His car was found in the parking lot of the Cathedral Peak Hotel. Wood said a group of hikers later came across an elderly man, believed to be Hetherington, who was asking for directions to the peak.

A search team was activated late yesterday when it became apparent that Hetherington had not returned to Didima Camp. Jack Haskins, from the Police Search and Rescue Unit, said two dogs had been deployed to help in the search and a third dog would be brought in to assist.

Wood said the Police Air Wing had been deployed on an aerial search of the area while a 12-man search team from the MSCA was searching on foot. One could walk up Cathedral Peak, but, Woods said: "It's very steep. It's not for the faint-hearted. It's more like a scramble than a walk."

On Friday the area had been drenched with rain and this had been followed up on Sunday by extremely hot weather.

Wood appealed to anybody who may have been hiking or walking in the area during the weekend and had seen an elderly man to call the provincial Emergency Medical Rescue Service toll free number 0800-005133. - Sapa

Courtesy of www.sabcnews.com

Lets all help maintain the values for which the Berg was proclaimed a World Heritage Site

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11 Feb 2008 11:18 #56 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
Just phoned the guys at Cathedral. Unfortunately the guy is still missing. Apparently he did sign back in on the 2nd but they suspect he went for a walk again after that. His car and belongings are obviously still there.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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18 Feb 2008 14:02 #58 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
Unfortunately he is still missing and there still are not any clues really as to what happened to him. The initial search and rescue has obviously been called off, but the SAPS is still actively searching and investigating.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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04 Mar 2008 10:48 #66 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
He has sadly still not been found and the search is officially over. See this article . One wishes that there could be closure for his family.

It's quite possible that he got swept away by the Mlambonja River whilst trying to cross....it does become a raging torrent at times. A hiker got swept away at Ndedema in 1995 - they never found his body.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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13 May 2008 23:54 #93 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
This thread discusses the Content article: Hikers freeze to death near Sentinel Car Park

A little more detail is provided in this newspaper article , which includes a response from the Universal Church of God in Phuthaditjhaba to which the group belonged.

The group set out from Sentinel Car Park at 5.30pm, the guard not suspecting that they would hike to the escarpment.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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04 Jun 2008 13:09 #98 by Oneye
Replied by Oneye on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
This thread discusses the Content article: Hiker rescued from fall at Monk's Cowl

I have concluded that these kinds of avoidable accidents happen when errors are allowed to accumulate.

1. The pair went hiking in an area they did not know, possibly unprepared to spend the night if they had to. They certainly did not have a rescue plan in case of an emergency. Did they have a torch?
2. They stayed until dark
3. They lost the path

Now they had a choice of turning back to find the path or downclimbing an unknown cliff in the dark without a rope where a fall might be fatal.

There are TWO clues why turning back is the proper choice. The first is that are about to pile a possible fourth mistake upon the 3 they already made KNOWINGLY. The second is that the worst consequences of climbing down an unknown cliff in the dark without a rope are not acceptable, while backing up may be tiresome, it is not life threatening. The worst case is that they will have to wait for light to find the path.

The second scenario becomes potentially life-threatening if it begins to rain or snow, and they are unprepared for it. However, that does not change the reason not to downclimb an unknown cliff in the dark without a rope. It also is a matter of risk evaluation. The chances of rain or snow are less than 100%, and in this case, probably quite low, else the pair whould have turned back earlier. Further, there is something you can do about bad weather - find a cave - while nothing can be done about a broken leg.

Once in the Rockies at 4500m, I paced back and forth all night on a ledge in temps well below freezing because I got trapped by the dark and knew to sleep was fatal. I only had one hard section to the path to my tent, I tried a number of times to go down an icy cliff in the dark, and luckily failed. It was quite a battle not to sleep. I did get some sleep once the sun rose, because I had to wait until 10am until the ice melted and I could downclimb again.

The story does not tell of the actions or fate of the companion. I assume he had no clue what to do. Did he sit it out until light? Was he rescued?

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09 Jun 2008 12:18 #99 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
Funny how stubborn we can get when it comes to turning back! We always think it's too time consuming and that it will eventually come right if we carry on. Prudence and lack of blinding ambition are two good virtues to have in the mountains.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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28 Oct 2008 11:21 #201 by Magan
Replied by Magan on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
Hiker dies on Drakensberg
27/10/2008 17:39 - (SA)

Durban - A 68-year old man was killed when he fell while hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Monday.

Police spokesperson Captain Charmain Struwig said Luciano Colombo was hiking with a group through Camel Pass when he slipped and fell several metres.

She said Colombo, who was an experienced hiker from Durban's Amanzimtoti suburb, died on impact. A helicopter retrieved Colombo's body on Sunday afternoon. Police have opened an inquest docket.

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28 Oct 2008 14:09 #202 by fatshark
Replied by fatshark on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
That's pretty grim news.

I'd hazard a guess as to where it happened - that bit where the path washed away years ago and you have to inch along hoping your soles have enough grip.

I'm taking rope with next time I do Camel Pass...

Did anyone here know Mr Colombo? My condolences to you and the family.

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28 Oct 2008 16:34 #204 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Dragons Wrath 2008
Yes it's grim...

Some more details from The Witness:

Luciano Colombo (68) was hiking with five other experienced hikers when the accident happened at about 7 am on Sunday, police said.

According to Andy Wood of the Mountain Club of South Africa, the six hikers ascended Organ Pipes Pass on Saturday and spent the night on the top. On Sunday morning, they continued hiking and ascended Camels Pass above Cathedral Peak, where Colombo is said to have slipped “for about 40 metres” and plunged to his death.


I guess that should read "descended Camels Pass" rather than "ascended".

I think I know which place you are referring to fatshark, and it could very well have been there.

It's always a sobering reminder of the inherent danger of these mountains, especially scrambling up passes.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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