Dragon's Wrath 2019

05 Jan 2019 03:44 - 08 Jan 2019 07:32 #74452 by intrepid
Dragon's Wrath 2019 was created by intrepid
This is the place to gather and discuss all accidents and rescues in the Drakensberg for 2019. The most common are hiking related, though they can also result from other activities such as climbing and paragliding. This title of this thread is inspired by the book "Dragons Wrath" by Reg Pearse & James Byrom, and is an endeavour to continue on in that spirit.

The purpose of this is to:
* concatenate all information about these accidents to keep a concerned Drakensberg community informed;
* express solidarity and concern to those involved in the accidents;
* learn from mistakes made and to heed warnings of risks;
* maintain a publicly accessible historic record.

The purpose of this is not to:
* criticise or embarrass those involved;
* create media hype;
* create undue negative publicity for the Berg.

Historical threads:
Dragon's Wrath 2008
Dragon's Wrath 2009 (not yet compiled)
Dragon's Wrath 2010
Dragon's Wrath 2011
Dragon's Wrath 2012
Dragon's Wrath 2013
Dragon's Wrath 2014
Dragon's Wrath 2015
Dragon's Wrath 2016
Dragon's Wrath 2017
 Dragon's Wrath 2018

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 08 Jan 2019 07:32 by intrepid.
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08 Apr 2019 20:51 #74891 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Dragon's Wrath 2019
A busy weekend in the Drakensberg. The weekend of March 30 and 31 was a very busy time for KZN Mountain Rescue and Ezemvelo staff. The entire weekend's rescues were made more difficult by a shortage of aircraft, due to many helicopters being deployed to Mozambique, due to the recent floods there.
It started with a problem with a male hiker who had injured his knee on the Friday and needed some assistance from the top of Organ Pipes Pass. This situation was only eventually resolved the next day after he managed to get part way down with help from his own party and the MCSA team. They got to the contour road from where he could be brought down by vehicle.
While this was going on, two female hikers each broke their left legs by falling off the path near Marble Baths Cave. Both were evacuated by using a small private helicopter and Ezemvelo staff and medic. On the Saturday night 2 foreign hikers got lost and spent the night out near Ribbon Falls at Cathedral Peak. They were found unharmed the next morning by Ezemvelo Field Rangers. During the Saturday another incident was happening in the southern Drakensberg where a MCSA and rescue team member became ill while at Pillar Cave. His condition deteriorated and by Sunday morning he had to be evacuated on horseback and then driven to hospital. He was later discovered to have suffered a stroke and is now thankfully rapidly improving in health. Gavin Raubenheimer
KZN Search & Rescue Convener
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10 Apr 2019 14:05 #74896 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Dragon's Wrath 2019
Wow, busy indeed!

With Easter weekend coming up I reckon there will be more traffic than usual in the berg, which could be problematic for search & rescue if the weather is bad. While hiking at Injasuthi with the kids and family there were a number of incidents, and a couple of people I met on trail wasn't prepared for the conditions. Some didn't have maps, or raingear, and in rainy/foggy weather without maps or a GPS you are surely looking for trouble. We had to change our route to get the one family to safety, happy to help but could just shake my head at peoples ignorance and lack of basic mountain knowledge. I mean really, no map in mist, first time in the area, really silly.
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27 May 2019 17:27 #75036 by Deanvdm
Replied by Deanvdm on topic Dragon's Wrath 2019
From the MCSA SAR FB page:

Multiple KZN rescues, 19-5-18. The MSAR KZN team were kept busy on Saturday 18th May with two separate accidents in different areas (Howick and Witsieshoek/Sentinel in the Drakensberg).

The first call was to a 24 year old woman who had fallen off the path on the Black Eagle trail in the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve near Howick. She fell down a 10 metre high cliff and then rolled a further 45 metres down a grass slope below the cliff sustaining injuries to her back. The Mountain Club of SA SAR team, assisted by SAPS Search and Rescue and NetCare 911, used ropes to gain access to the patient and provide medical assistance to the patient. While the patient was being stabilised and moved onto a mountain rescue stretcher, the team then set up a high angle rope rescue system to raise her up the slope and cliff to the path. Thereafter she was carried back to the road where she was evacuated by a medical rescue helicopter and flown to a hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

Later the day a second team was activated to a similar accident near Sentinel Peak in the Northern Drakensberg. 56 year old female German tourist was hiking with her husband on the Chain ladder route returning to Witsieshoek car park, when she slipped and fell off the path down a steep rock slab coming to rest on a small grass band below another rock slab. During the fall she sustained multiple injuries. A Mountain Club paramedic, based in the Northern Drakensberg was airlifted with a locally based private helicopter to provide emergency medical care. After stabilising the patient and assisted by hikers, who had stopped and remained with the couple in distress, she was carried a short distance to the helicopter and flown off the mountain and then transferred to hospital by road ambulance. The use of private helicopters in simple operations is made possible by the support of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Ezemvelo is able to cover the cost of an air rescue through funds accumulated by the Emergency Rescue Levy, which all visitors to the Ezemvelo Parks pay as part of their entrance fee. We commend the passing hikers who willingly gave their time to help another hiker in distress. Without the support of the community, both for the aircraft and fellow hikers, this patient would have spent many more uncomfortable hours waiting for help to be rendered.

Both these accidents highlight the need for proper mountain footwear and to maintain concentration while hiking on paths. A momentary lapse in concentration can have disastrous results.

The patient's husband (center of photo) comforts his wife on the grass band below the rock slab as they wait for the paramedic to arrive. Two hikers (top left) can be seen at the level of the path.

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25 Jun 2019 21:34 #75112 by ruthtbl

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26 Jun 2019 15:38 - 26 Jun 2019 15:38 #75115 by Serious tribe
Replied by Serious tribe on topic Dragon's Wrath 2019
Really sad when you hear stories like this and a reminder to always be as careful as possible when above big drops.  Even then, accidents can still happen.  Condolences to her family.
Last edit: 26 Jun 2019 15:38 by Serious tribe.

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26 Jun 2019 18:19 #75117 by Captain
Replied by Captain on topic Dragon's Wrath 2019
Condolences to the family. Really sad to hear of these incidents. Any further details like where this took place, what the weather was like, what time of day etc. As tragic as these incidents are we can all learn from this in some way.
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25 Sep 2019 14:00 #75348 by AdrianT
Replied by AdrianT on topic Dragon's Wrath 2019
An accident on Grays Pass. From Facebook. Original link: 

In 2016 I went down Grays Pass gulley by mistake, at night. We had never been down the actual pass and missed the turn off getting out of that gulley. Turning around probably where that purple circle is. I feel sick to my stomach reading this now. Eventually reaching a huge boulder choke with no way around. It was very narrow, very steep and ultra loose. I cannot think of a worse place to be and have zero plans to ever go there again. My condolences to all who may have known the victim. 

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25 Sep 2019 23:17 #75349 by TheRealDave
Replied by TheRealDave on topic Dragon's Wrath 2019
This is very sad to read. Commendations to MCSA Search & Rescue, EKZNW, and SAPS for their dedication.

Perhaps it wouldn't be indiscreet to offer a reflection on judgement here, because presumably, having ascended on the path, she must have known she was off track on the way down. A similar thing happened to me descending Tsepeng Pass, when I knew that I'd missed the exit onto the slopes (because of mist) but figured I could carry on down the gully. At a certain point I saw that I couldn't and that I'd have to re-ascend, yet I still felt a reluctance to back-track and was still eyeing the evidently treacherous, wet ledges in the hope that some overlooked route would suddenly appear. And I think this risky thinking, especially when one is tired - that if I can just get down this one obstacle, rather than go all the way back up, then the descent will be so much quicker and easier - this risky thinking can be a dangerous psychological trap, particularly if one is also disorientated because of mist or darkness as well as feeling anxious or fearful. We can't know exactly what happened here, but my heart goes out to her.
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26 Sep 2019 06:42 #75350 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Dragon's Wrath 2019
My condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

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

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