Monday, October 23, 2006

Conquering Helderberg Mountain: Report

It is strange to think that there are so many students at Helderberg College who would have passed through three or more years of study at Helderberg without making it to the top of the mountain even though it is literally in our back yard.

On Sunday, 22 October, 24 students, did however make it to the top of the mountain.

This is how it happened:

We said we would leave at 07:00, but as usual, the girls from Anne Visser House (we usually just call it: the Girls Dormitory), spent an extra 30 minutes putting on their make-up, and making themselves look fashionable. So we left at 7:30.

We followed a less common route up along the Spanish Farm boundary of the College, and not the more common route that goes up straight against the protea farm. This route provided varied terrain and different views.

As expected the group quickly divided into two sections, an agile section and a slow section. The agile ones reached the top of the mountain while I was still sorting out somebody with cramps at the foot of the cliff face (Oom Sias, our farm manager drove up with a 4x4 and gave her a quick way down.)

The agile group met up with Conrad Zygmont, one of our adventurous staff members, who guided them to the top of Fourth Peak (The Dome) while the rest of us relaxed on West Peak. I was with the group who relaxed and therefore my photos are limited to those who stayed with me.

The day was not entirely without drama.

One of our girls who attempted to climb Fourth Peak twisted her ankle. Our Salisbury house guys were so eager to climb the mountain that they did not pay her much heed. Thankfully a group of climbers attached to the Hottentots-Holland section of the Mountain Club of South Africa were also climbing on the mountain.

They were able to provide treatment. At one stage, as they were assessing the problem they even had a helicopter on standby to evacuate her. Fortunately a little bit of loving attention helped her relax and she was able to walk down to Disa Gorge where a 4x4 from the local Search and Rescue organisation was able to pick her up. We really need to thank the Mountain club for their very kind assistance. They rightly remarked that several of our students did not have correct footwear for the mountains and that we must not ever underestimate the dangers on the mountain.

The biggest drama, which I did not want to mention to anybody out of sheer embarrassment is that I (the one who organised the trip) was so busy packing first aid kits and cameras that I left my food for the trip on my diningroom table. I only discovered this when I opened my bag on top of First Peak! It is amazing how appetising a packet of licorice Allsorts can be when there is nothing else to eat. I consoled myself with the fact that I know many mountain climbers who survived days without food in mountains.

The whole exercise was very enjoyable and I hope that we can do this more frequently. I hope that a few students will develop a passion for such activities in the process.

Mike and Bulumko relaxing at the top.

On the way down there is a beautiful exposed area. Clementine is accompanied by Will from the Langa Adventist Church.

A small group about 1/4 of the way down the mountain.

We could see some of our other group of climbers walking on top of the Dome. They were small like ants. The camera did not pick it up, but it is possible to use one's imagination.


SARA said...


Weiers said...

Congratulations! (Would you go again? Did you leave anything, other than your footsteps behind? Because if you did you owe me big time. I never mentioned that I carried two bags of rubbish down from the mountain :-).