- The man set out for a gentle walk on the lower slopes of the nature reserve.
- But he never returned, after the gates closed many hours later.
- Eventually, around 24 hours later, his body was discovered high on the mountain crags.
A hiker has died high on a mountain in greater Cape Town - after an epic search in foul winter weather.The man, 58, had initially set out for a gentle stroll on the lower slopes of the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West.
Almost 24 hours later, his body was found high in the mountains on Friday. He may have suffered a fatal fall, on a rocky crag high above the winelands town.
Wilderness Search & Rescue (WSAR) spokesperson Johann Marais said the nature reserve manager called them for assistance around 17:00 on Thursday after the man's wife had reported him overdue for return.
"The man had set out to hike the Sugarbird Route and not returned by 16:00 as he had arranged with his wife. By then rangers had already patrolled the route. WSAR had more than 17 operatives in the field on foot and where possible in 4x4's searching for this person into the small hours of the night."
This was co-ordinated from a "Joint Operations Centre (JOC)", established in a hi-tech "Incident Command Centre" vehicle provided by the Western Cape Government's Department of Health."The search was resumed early today," Marais continued.
After several hours' search on Friday morning on the nature reserve's network of mountain tracks and narrow paths, the search party found the man - dead - amidst swirling north-westerly clouds and cold winter rain.
Marais said: "We are sad to report that the body of a man has been found. He was fatally injured when he fell somewhere off the path."
The location is understood to be between Porcupine Ridge and the Saddle, or in the deep gorge directly below."His family have been given the sad news. We share their grief."
Despite successfully locating the man, rescuers have still not been able to retrieve the body.
"The body is being packaged and we will wait for the weather to clear to bring the body off the mountain," Marais reported.