Fixed Berg climbing route illegal

2012-01-04 00:00

EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife is investigating who was responsible for illegally erecting a via ferrata route across the face of the Beacon Buttress within Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park world heritage site and has promised legal action against the culprits.

EKZNW spokesperson, Waheeda Peters confirmed yesterday that unbeknown to EKZNW the via ferrata route was erected “over a couple of weeks” during November last year.

She said the terrain on top of the mountain is very rugged and difficult to access and it was difficult to see any activities taking place there such as the erection of the via ferrata route.

The Internet describes a via ferrata route as a “mountain route which is equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges.” Their use allows otherwise isolated routes to be joined to create longer routes which are accessible to people with a wide range of climbing abilities.

“Walkers and climbers can follow via ferrata without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing.”

EKZNW said in a statement the establishment of the route contravened a number of acts and regulations that govern the management of a world heritage site.

Dr Bandile Mkhize, Ezemvelo CEO, expressed his shock when he heard of the route.

“It is unheard of that an individual would go to a World Heritage Site and interfere with its landscape without first obtaining necessary authorisation from the authority responsible for its management. Such action undermines all the applicable laws and cannot go unchallenged,” he said.

He said the via ferrata route is not in line with future plans for the area. “The area is not a proclaimed wilderness area though it is our aim to manage it towards wilderness,” he said.

Peters said EKZNW is still investigating who is responsible for erecting the route and its legal options. They will inform the public when more information becomes available.

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