The Table Mountain Cableway will be closing for annual maintenance from 8 July to 18 August. This means many people will want to ascend on foot, but many will not take note of some basic hiking safety.
Table Mountain is one of the world’s most well-known mountains and it’s understandable that visitors to Cape Town want to ascend it on foot. It looks safe and easy because it’s in a city and because it is squat and flat, and rather benign looking. Unfortunately, that is far from the reality. Table Mountain is a very dangerous place to hike if you are not well-equipped and if the weather changes, as it does often and fast.
When people go on holiday they often leave their common sense at home. Maybe having flown in a large piece of metal for 10000 km makes them feel immune to all dangers. So, they attempt the hike as if it was a walk in the park. Add to that the notorious weather of Cape Town (once called the Cape of Storms, for good reason), and you have the perfect storm (sorry for that pun but I’m leaving it) for unpredictable and dangerous mountain conditions.
But .. it IS a lovely mountain to climb and there are dozens of different ways to reach the top so by all means give it a go. Research in advance to find a suitable route. The most frequently used is Platteklip Gorge from Tafelberg Road. It’s tough but quick if you are reasonably fit.
Obviously, the best way to climb the Cape’s mountains is with an experienced mountain guide who not only keeps you safe but can tell you and show you all sorts of interesting things that you might not have otherwise known of. Ask us to recommend one!
Here is some advice to consider before you climb what the original inhabitants named Hoerikwaggo, Mountain in The Sea, known today as Table Mountain.
- Always tell someone where you are going, the route you are taking and the estimated time of return
- Always keep to the pace and abilities of the weakest person in the group
- Beware of loose rocks or stones
- Ensure you have a fully charged cell phone with emergency numbers stored
- Take a warm jacket/fleece and a rainproof top
- Always wear good walking shoes with a good gripping sole, or even hiking boots
- Wear a hat and sunscreen
- Take at least 2 litres of water per person
- Take snacks
- Take a map – the Slingsby Maps are the best
- Never ever climb alone
- Do not stray off a path or route
- Never split up a group, unless necessary to fetch help and then stay in pairs if possible
- If visibility is lost when bad weather closes in, stay where you are
- Table Mountain is best climbed from as early in the morning as possible.
- If a local tells you this is not a good time or day to go, take their advice
- It’s always better to ascend on foot and descend by cable car, when it is operating. Tickets can be purchased at the top for the descent.