Dragons Wrath 2021

26 Apr 2021 22:32 - 26 Apr 2021 22:39 #76796 by TheRealDave
Replied by TheRealDave on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
As noted in the thread, Helicopter Activity , on the 25th of April a hiker fell to his death on the Bell Traverse. My condolences to all in the hiking party and to the hiker's family and friends. We were about 45 minutes behind this group, and it was shocking to learn of what had happened and clearly very traumatic for the group concerned.

With the group's permission, I took some pictures of the place where the fall occurred, which it might be to the benefit of other hikers to point out. Shortly before we reached the spot, we were overtaken by another party of three, and one of them slipped in exactly the same place but caught himself, which prompted the group sitting on the opposite slope to caution them with the news. It is in the last sharp cutback before the saddle between the Sisters and Outer Horn (when heading towards Twins Cave):







As often, pictures do not quite convey the steepness, but it is clear when you're there that if one took a tumble, it could easily become unstoppable. I infer that the lower path has developed because of the wet rock, which may be trickier to step across when heading towards Bell Cave. (A photo by Ghaznavid of the same spot in July 2018 shows a tuft at the base of the rock which is now gone.) As approached from the upper path, this section is not dangerous, but it does require care. There are sketchier and more exposed sections on the Bell Traverse, such as the narrow ledge on the north-eastern slope of the Mitre. This serves as a reminder that a fall can happen when we least expect it and in places that may not look especially dangerous.

We offered what assistance and comfort we could, but then had to move on. Rescue and recovery operations under way:



My condolences again to the group involved and to the hiker's family and friends.

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Last edit: 26 Apr 2021 22:39 by TheRealDave.

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27 Apr 2021 10:05 #76797 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
We were on the Outer Mnweni Needle and also saw the helicopter below. Sad to hear the outcome. Condolences to their family and friends.

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27 Apr 2021 15:04 #76798 by Drakie1
Replied by Drakie1 on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
I was part of the group of ten people, which included the deceased. We had planned to do the Bell Traverse and then hike down Tseketseke over a five day period. 

One of the ladies and I were behind the rest of the group, waiting for the deceased to catch up. As we looked back we saw him slip, loosing his balance and then tumbling down the steep grassy slope as shown in the photo in the previous post. He continued falling down the narrow gully at the bottom of the slope.

The deceased was 66 years old and a veteran with 40 years experience of hiking in the Drakensberg. He had done the Bell Traverse three times before.

Condolences to his family.

 
The following user(s) said Thank You: Smurfatefrog, ruthtbl, Joe Welman, Macc, supertramp, TheRealDave

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27 Apr 2021 15:13 #76799 by Drakie1
Replied by Drakie1 on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
See my post under Dragon's Wrath.
The following user(s) said Thank You: JohnS

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27 Apr 2021 19:17 - 27 Apr 2021 22:21 #76800 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
This is sad news. To all family and friends of the deceased, I offer my condolences, thoughts and prayers at this time!

To the group who were involved, this is a traumatic experience to have to go through. Thank you Drakie for sharing some details. I really hope you are able to work through the experience. Be encouraged to reach out for help if you need it. At the end of last year a family member of mine was involved in a serious glacier-related accident in Canada which was very traumatic but thankfully had no fatalities. It can take a long time to recover mentally and emotionally from experiences such as these. Trauma counselling can be very beneficial in working through this. Even just a few de-briefing sessions with the group involved can go a long way in making sure that the processing is healthy and leads to proper recovery.

@TheDealDave: Thank you for posting the picture. It is very helpful for everyone to understand what happened.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 27 Apr 2021 22:21 by intrepid. Reason: typo
The following user(s) said Thank You: bergbees, ASL, TheRealDave, Drakie1

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28 Apr 2021 07:52 #76802 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Dragons Wrath 2021

Be encouraged to reach out for help if you need it. At the end of last year a family member of mine was involved in a serious glacier-related accident in Canada which was very traumatic but thankfully had no fatalities. It can take a long time to recover mentally and emotionally from experiences such as these.

I agree with this sentiment - on four different occasions I have watched someone take a big fall right in front of me while hiking, also fortunately never ending badly. Definitely something that takes time to deal with. Three out of four of those accounts are included in my writeups on this forum, the fourth happened when Ross fell on the scramble on the way into Rumdoodle Crag at Kloof Gorge, luckily landing on his backpack and crushing a small tree, only leaving him with a few cuts and bruises.

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28 Apr 2021 08:22 #76803 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
An additional incident reported in the same article covering the Bell Traverse accident happened on 24 April in RNNP at Gudu Falls:

Sargood also spoke about a rescue on Saturday night. He said that at about 11.30 am, information had been received of a hiker having fallen at the Gugu Falls in the Royal Natal National Park. He was carried 4 km by the rescue team and rangers from the park, who managed to get him to an ambulance at 4 am.
The text above is from:
www.news24.com/witness/news/kzn/hikers-body-recovered-after-plunge-down-steep-slope-20210428

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28 Apr 2021 16:58 - 28 Apr 2021 16:59 #76814 by Serious tribe
Replied by Serious tribe on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
Perhaps the top path should be blocked off with a sign saying use the lower path.  If you are coming from the the Mitre side, it seems logical to take the lower path as the upper path looks dangerous, however coming from the other side, if you haven't done the route before it might seem like the correct way to go.  Even if you have done the route before, and if you haven't reminded yourself about the potential danger, you might still forgetfully take the upper path and run into issues. 

As I mentioned on the BT thread, it is tragic that a hiker has lost their life, and a family and hiking party traumatised, my condolences to the family and hiking party.


 
Last edit: 28 Apr 2021 16:59 by Serious tribe.

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03 May 2021 16:58 - 03 May 2021 17:00 #76836 by firephish
Replied by firephish on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
Tragic, condolences to the hiker's family and friends.

I must say, I have never considered that spot particularly dangerous, but have only done it going towards Bell Cave, maybe its easier that way. This is indeed a wakeup call to always to be cautious near big drops.
Last edit: 03 May 2021 17:00 by firephish.

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07 May 2021 10:48 - 07 May 2021 11:02 #76847 by Deanvdm
Replied by Deanvdm on topic Dragons Wrath 2021
Anyone have an idea if this is the same or different to the Cathedral area incidents already listed above  Posted 21/5/6 - Early this morning SAPS Airwing, recovered the body of an unknown male at Cathedral Peak

#sapsKZN Early this morning Pietermaritzburg and Newcastle #SearchAndRescue as well as Durban and Pretoria #SAPS #Airwing, recovered the body of an unknown male at Cathedral Peak, Drakenberg. Inquest docket opened.
 

Edit: I understand that it might not have been a hiker
Last edit: 07 May 2021 11:02 by Deanvdm.

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