Local host of stranded US students praises 'phenomenal' rescue team

2016-06-14 07:16
FILE: Kloof Gorge rescue (Netcare911)

FILE: Kloof Gorge rescue (Netcare911)

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Cape Town – The host of three American college students who got stuck on a ledge in the Jonkershoek Mountains over the weekend has praised the "phenomenal" team that rescued them.

The students had been staying at the Sport for Christ Action SA (SCAS) camp, near Stellenbosch, as part of an annual internship programme for leadership development.

"It was their off day yesterday [Sunday] and some decided to hike within the reserve. They did the trail four days prior and went back because it was beautiful," SCAS CEO Hein Reyneke told News24 on Monday.

He had just finished dinner with his family when he got a call from an American number.

The students, one man and two women, had phoned to ask for advice after veering off the track and getting stuck on a ledge.

"I said, 'Wait there, I will come up and assess'. At that point, the sun was going down. Luckily they had a torch with them so I could see where they were on the mountain," said Reyneke.

Just enough water

Realising it was too dangerous for him to go up, Reyneke called the nature reserve and told the small group to stay where they were.

Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) launched a team of seven rescuers around 19:00.

"Luckily we were able to see them because we told them to switch on their torches on their cellphones. Our guys also wear their headlamps, so we were able to guide them," said WSAR spokesperson Johann Marais.

The students apparently hid from the icy wind in a small recess. They had just enough water with them. Reyneke kept in contact with them on the phone every 15 minutes.

The rescue team took some time to find a route to them.

They traversed across the cliff with ropes and lowered two people down to the stranded group.


Marais said the team brought extra gear and showed the students how to abseil.

They took them about 15m up the cliff, before traversing about 50m across.

The team reached the ground at around 02:15 on Monday.

Reyneke said they were very grateful for the rescue.

"As the Bible says, if you go off the narrow track, you are going to lose your direction," he said with a chuckle.

"It could have been a very serious thing but worked out well. Luckily they didn't need to spend the night on the mountain because that could have changed the picture a bit."

He said the students got a bit of scare but were in high spirits. 

All was well after Reyneke informed their parents and the partner organisation they were working with in America.

Read more on:    us  |  cape town  |  search and rescue  |  good news

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