The weekend of the 2nd to the 4th December saw a highly successful joint
field training exercise involving representatives of the MCSA CT and HH
teams, which took place on Table Mountain. We were privileged to have as
guest instructor Laurent Schneitter, a highly experienced rescue
technician and international IRATA Assessor.
Although the weather was
rather 'Scottish-winter', it was nevertheless realistic, and added a bit
of edginess to the training, with visibility down to about 10m at times,
and an incessant, howling South East wind.
Aside from the cold and the wet, the participants enjoyed a superb
learning experience, gaining new perspectives on old scenarios and
practicing alternative rigging methods on various cliffs.
We had the
opportunity to work on small-team rigging problems on a ledge/cliff,
restricted to certain types of equipment, which definitely blew out any cobwebs. We also conducted a steep ground stretcher carry/lower over
deceptively complex terrain.
Several people got the opportunity to be involved in leadership roles,
and had to deal with a variety of curveballs. A lively 'classroom'
session involved thorough debriefing, and a discussion of rigging
systems and strategies as well as an examination of alternative
stretcher rigging approaches.
The training culminated in a spectacular
horizontal reeved highline out of a steep gorge.
It is always a great pleasure to work with a spirited, enthusiastic
group of rescuers, and I'm confident I speak for everyone when I say
that the new perspectives offered by Laurent have led to an injection of
motivation to sharpen our approaches to technical scenarios.
Thanks to all those who worked hard to ensure a successful training
Thanks also to the TM hut committee for providing a wonderful venue,
it is always good to be reminded that the
hut is a quality MCSA asset, which is maintained in remarkably superb
The MCSA fields two mountain rescue teams in the Western Cape area. The
Cape Town section team and the newer Hottentots Holland section team.
These two teams have forged good bonds over the years and do regular
joint training exercises, in addition to their own training programs.
Both teams pride themselves on their high technical and safety
standards, and have a good spread of experience, ranging from those who
have spent decades in mountain rescue, to the promising, young
Although the training emphasis is on technical ropework in a mountain
setting, the teams also focus on search management and theory, medical
training and helicopter procedures, as well as general mountaineering
and leadership skills. Always, the core skills that are emphasised are
those of mountaineering and rock climbing, which sets us apart from most
other rescue groups and is our skill mainstay, with a constant striving
for excellence, safety and continued learning.
As a national body, the MCSA operates search and rescue teams in various
parts of South Africa, although the Cape teams operate as part of
Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR), the blanket body that is
responsible for running mountain emergencies in this area. Reporting of
all mountain emergencies in the Cape should go via Metro Control
(021-9370300), who will activate the appropriate response.
Be safe out there.
Brent Jennings (MCSA Search and Rescue)
Want to see some more impressive pictures of the S&R exercise?
Click on this link to go to Andy Nix's web page:
AND HERE to see Mathias Tolken's Facebook pictures (no need to sign in):