Amanzimtoti hiker dies in 40-metre Drakensberg fall

2008-10-27 00:00

An experienced and well-known hiker, from Amanzimtoti on the south coast, was killed after he slipped and fell off a cliff while hiking in the central Drakensberg on Sunday morning.

Luciano Colombo (68) was hiking with five other experienced hikers when the accident happened at about 7 am on Sunday, police said.

According to Andy Wood of the Mountain Club of South Africa, the six hikers ascended Organ Pipes Pass on Saturday and spent the night on the top. On Sunday morning, they continued hiking and ascended Camels Pass above Cathedral Peak, where Colombo is said to have slipped “for about 40 metres” and plunged to his death.

He died on impact, police said.

A joint operation to recover Colombo’s body was immediately launched by SAPS search and rescue team members and the Mountain Club of South Africa.

Both Inspector Jack Haskins of the SAPS and Wood said the only difficulty experienced was that the helicopter could not land at the site of the accident.

“Because of the steep terrain, the helicopter could not land there. This meant that members involved in the joint operation had to be deployed some distance away from the scene of the accident,” said Wood, who commended pilot Mike McDonnell for his skill during the operation.

The team had to descend on foot to the accident site. Wood said they did not encounter any major difficulties while recovering his body, apart from the storm that was brewing. “The storm was brewing and it would have made it difficult for us, however, we were able to recover the body before the storm started,” Haskins said.

Police spokeswoman Captain Charmaine Struwig said an inquest docket into Colombo’s death has been opened by Bergville police.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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