Page 42 - SA Mountain Issue 64
P. 42

                                                         ian at the royal cape yacht club. Photo aShleigh de villierS
In memory of
ian slatem
on 1 January our brother, friend and fellow climber, mountaineer and seaman; our lovable and loyal vagabond of the hills and the oceans, ian christopher slatem was sadly and cruelly taken from us in a freak climbing accident on the historically famous arrow final, an easy rock climb on Table Mountain – the 60-metre-high grey slab directly beneath the upper cableway sta on, which was  rst climbed over 100 years ago.
It was a day like any other for Ian, who, as a retired geologist, decided to become a climbing guide, and on New Year’s Day, had two clients who wanted to climb Table Mountain. They set off up the mountain and made their way to the base of the route to prepare for their ascent. Ian was a hugely experienced climber, who had been practicing his passion for over 40 years, and was a stickler
for safety.
It is not absolutely clear what happened, but
according to WSAR (Wilderness Search and Rescue), Ian was leading his clients up the route, when he
  either accidentally pulled a loose block, or a block fell from above and hit him. This caused him to lose purchase with the rock and take a leader fall. At the
    same time, the block plummeted, and hit one of his clients, killing her instantly. Unfortunately, this client was also
the one belaying Ian, so with no one
to block the rope through the belay device, Ian fell from high up on the route
to practically the very bottom – a fall of some 50 metres, which proved fatal.
WSAR were called out immediately, and over the course of the afternoon and evening, the rescue team, with the aid
of the Cableway Company, who, without hesitation, allowed the team full access to
the cable car to aid in the recovery of the sole survivor and retrieval of the two deceased
climbers, went about their job, which took most of the night.
 At the same time, the cableway was shut down for normal use leaving several hundred tourists stranded on the top of the mountain. Again, the Cableway
Company came to the rescue and served free hot drinks and provided blankets to the stranded
tourists on the summit of the mountain, where the temperatures had dropped quite considerably.
Eventually, the cableway reopened and the last of the tourists were shepherded off the mountain in the early hours of the morning.
A huge thank you to WSAR and the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company for a
tremendous job!

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