Berg Alert 2016

25 Apr 2016 10:16 - 25 Apr 2016 10:17 #67974 by AdrianT
Replied by AdrianT on topic Berg Alert 2016
Thanks Herman. I have mailed Stephen Richert and will see what he says too. If I learn anything I will report, but will probably buy tickets anyway. Worst case is I go and do a few peaks further south as short trips.

My mate from Jhb says every time he is there the Basothos are there, but never have given him hassle. I think the issue may be people giving them food/sweets, which creates a precedent, and some people are not chilled enough to smile and leave. (my guess)

I have done the chains twice, not a big fan :whistle: I just head up the gulley instead and avoid them, and the area. Great views from that ridge above the falls anyway. (edit: have not been there since 2006)
Last edit: 25 Apr 2016 10:17 by AdrianT.

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25 Apr 2016 10:29 #67976 by Dillon
Replied by Dillon on topic Berg Alert 2016
Ah man, this is terrible news!

We were just planning on taking a group of new-ish hikers up there this weekend for a single night on top! Excitement has been building amongst them for the last 2 weeks now.

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous."

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25 Apr 2016 10:35 - 25 Apr 2016 16:12 #67977 by Viking
Replied by Viking on topic Berg Alert 2016
I am told that the situation in question "was very bad indeed".

Stephen Richert is busy drawing up a statement which he will send me and I'll post it once I have it.

**edit** Stephen has joined the forum and will post his message himself.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”
Last edit: 25 Apr 2016 16:12 by Viking.
The following user(s) said Thank You: JonWells, Herman, Captain, AdrianT, supertramp, saros, Papa Dragon

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25 Apr 2016 16:38 #67980 by Ranger
Replied by Ranger on topic Berg Alert 2016
Hi

We are in the process of obtaining authorisation to post a media release here from KZN Wildlife. At this stage we can assure everyone that the matter is being fully investigated and that we would urge hikers to follow general precautions consistent with all Berg hikes.

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26 Apr 2016 12:56 #67992 by Ranger
Replied by Ranger on topic Berg Alert 2016
On the 24th of April 2016 at around 01h00, a group of three South African hikers who were camping on a path junction in the valley leading up to Fangs Pass, were attacked by three Basutho males with dogs. One of the party sustained serious injuries and police dockets are being opened. Authorities are investigating the matter. The current modus operandi of the individuals at the Amphitheatre area is as follows:

• Aggressive begging for food or money at the Chain ladders. Some hikers have had stones thrown at them when descending after refusing to give food or money.
• Shepherds watching hiking parties late afternoon when they set up camp to see what can be stolen. Attacks then generally occur around 23h00 to 03h00.
• Some tents are cut open and items stolen.

A number of suggestions for safer camping on the Amphitheatre are proposed. These have been widely distributed on the Vertical Endeavour website under General Safety precautions but here are a few reminders:

1. We recommend that you do not camp anywhere on the main Amphitheatre “bowl” or major paths, but that you choose a valley well away from the main trails and set up camp uphill, so that you have the advantage of high ground.
2. Do not set up tents when you are being watched. Generally the culprits will hang around on the ridges above hiking parties in the late afternoons. If you are being watched, keep moving and don’t set up camp anywhere near them.
3. Don’t set up camp near huts or areas of obvious habitation.
4. Be friendly and polite to those you meet, but firm. Don’t display cameras and other valuables openly if you can help it.
5. A party size of three or more is recommended.
6. A watch system at night can be exhausting but might be a good option for known trouble spots.
7. Going with a guide or experienced porters helps tremendously as they can often spot trouble and some speak the local language.
8. Keep all your belongings in the tent with you, and tie your boots to your pack or sleeping bag to avoid them being taken without your knowledge.
9. Consider putting survival items such as a space blanket, cell phones and boots into a smaller daypack or jacket that can be quickly retrieved if need be.

Many people have very happy memories of their hikes and the Wilderness experience in the Drakensberg is unmatched. Unfortunately at this stage the Amphitheatre is an area where greater vigilance is needed, but this shouldn’t stop you exploring the breath taking Wilderness of the Berg. It offers an unrivalled experience for solitude, scenic splendour and adventure and most interactions with Basutho people in the Berg are friendly and safe throughout the Drakensberg. Please feel free to PM me with any questions.

Stephen Richert
Conservation Manager
Royal Natal
Maloti Drakensberg World Heritage Site

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26 Apr 2016 13:17 #67994 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Berg Alert 2016
Hi Guys, as I have mentioned before there is no place that is safe in the Berg, whether in the low or high Berg. There have been many other attacks and robberies in the high Berg that have not been reported on VE. Remember that the VE community are not the only hikers in the Berg! This last attack was vicious and they were apparently stripped of everything, badly beaten and bitten by dogs. This may be the turning point of how we hike in the Berg so that greater safety is insured. There is no ways that we will stop hiking so lets discuss measures on VE that we can put into place for future safer hiking experiences.
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26 Apr 2016 13:30 #67996 by Ranger
Replied by Ranger on topic Berg Alert 2016
The hikers who were attacked were camping on the Kubedu River directly in line with Icidi Pass, so not strictly in the Amphitheatre area, but close enough for the herders who frequent that area to carry out the robbery. Moving as far down the Berg on your first day as possible is always a better option, especially if you are being observed while setting up camp.
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26 Apr 2016 13:39 #67997 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Berg Alert 2016

Richard Hunt wrote: This may be the turning point of how we hike in the Berg so that greater safety is insured.

I don't think that safety can ever truly be ensured, and while there are some safety precautions we can take - the reality is that a group of 6 probably would have been no better off than this group, so it can really just be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Obviously we all remember that incident on Masubasuba Pass last year, so 3 serious incidents in under 12 months is a concern - but we also need to avoid overreacting. The Berg has had bad times in the past, we must just be careful and take every precaution we can take. But these attacks can be a bit like rock-falls - if you are unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, there is not much you can do about it.
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26 Apr 2016 13:53 #67998 by Viking
Replied by Viking on topic Berg Alert 2016

Richard Hunt wrote: This may be the turning point of how we hike in the Berg so that greater safety is insured. There is no ways that we will stop hiking so lets discuss measures on VE that we can put into place for future safer hiking experiences.


I'm sure many of us have some ideas on added defence methods after reading this but I would just like to remind everyone that should you be involved in a major incident on the Lesotho side, you could end up in a Lesotho court or jail.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”
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26 Apr 2016 14:40 #67999 by diverian
Replied by diverian on topic Berg Alert 2016
I guess my friend Pietro will have to come hiking with me from now.

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