The hiking route between Houtbay and Sandy Bay is not for the faint hearted. This is the kind of route you take when you are hiking fit and you know where you are going. This route is exposed with very high cliff faces, and little shelter from the elements. Its also not obvious that this route is just over 10km long! so it will take a fit hiker nothing less than 6 hours to do. I was fortunate enough to go on this route with Dieter Heiser who is a very well known hiking leader and we started walking at 7am. By the time the shade had vanished, we were well over 3/4 of the route done, then from there we had to find our way by means of crawling through thick scrubb and unclear paths.
|Notice how exposed the people are on that rock face in the far background.|
|If you dont know WHERE to go, you can very easily get lost here|
|Sandy Bay looking back at the exposed face of the Karbonkelberg|
Im glad I did this route, and would like to do it again someday. It is with this in mind that I am sorry to hear about the unfortunate situation that took place on this route yesterday, but glad everyone is safe back at home.
Herewith the story as it was published in a newspaper website today: St. Francis Cronicle
Seventeen hikers were airlifted to safety in Hout Bay after they got into extreme difficulties on an 8-hour hike yesterday, 13 January 2012.
The hikers had to be hoisted in relays into the rescue helicopter and airlifted to the NSRI rescue base. Fifteen were initially airlifted, then after a search another two hikers, who had separated from the main group, were found near to the Boss 400 crane barge wreck and they were also hoisted into the rescue helicopter and airlifted to the sea rescue base. Another four hikers from the group made it safely back to the Sandy Bay car park in Llandudno without assistance and needed no further help.
Lyall Pringle, NSRI Hout Bay station commander, said at 3.30 pm NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crew were placed on alert following a request for assistance from a hiking club reporting to be hiking with 21 Cape Town hikers on the Karbonkelberg Hiking Trail, between Sandy Bay and Hout Bay. The hikers were stuck at Die Braak, about half way along the trail and unable to proceed.
Photo: View of Karbonkelberg, Hout Bay Pic Source: Wikivillage.co.za
“Their guide had never hiked the trail before, they appeared to be ill equipped with some of the hikers wearing slip-slops and some hikers having no warm gear and most had inadequate water supplies. Two of the hikers were reported to be asthmatic.”
Scores of past hikers have found themselves needing to be rescued at the De Braak junction, Pringle noted. The hikers started the hike at 8 am and at some point got lost, delaying their hike.
“The Hout Bay branch of Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) and the WC Government Health EMS rescue division were notified and the EMS Skymed helicopter was placed on alert.”
The NSRI plan was to deliver experienced rescue guides by boat to the location to assist to walk the hikers out of their predicament . Supplies of water, cool drinks, extra food and energy bars, were purchased by NSRI to deliver to the hikers.
Prior to this the Skymed rescue helicopter responded and WSAR rescuers would be deployed to the hikers by helicopter. Then a decision would be taken to either hoist the hikers into the helicopter or for the rescue guides to hike them to safety.
“Our NSRI Hout Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft Albie Matthews and Nedbank Rescuer . On arrival on-scene two NSRI rescue swimmers swam ashore to begin to triage the hikers and our rescue swimmers took hand-held radios, for communications, plus the sea rescue vehicle was dispatched to Rocket Road, Llandudno to aid with VHF radio communications.”
Some of the hikers had decided to return to Sandy Bay , some of the others fearing dehydration drank sea water which accelerated their dehydration while also making them feel rather unwell.
A lone female hiker was also spotted by the rescue helicopter, hiking on the trail, but she indicated to the helicopter crew that she was in no danger and that she was happy to continue with her walk. It was later determined that she was not part of the hiking club and we suspect that she may be a very experienced hiker on her evening walk!
”No one was injured and after consuming the supplies that NSRI had purchased for them at the sea rescue base all 17 hikers left to go home,” Pringle added.