Mountain Search and Rescue’s Trekking Safety Advice for Outdoor Enthusiasts 

We’ve inquired The Mountain Club of South Africa Search and Rescue for some hiking safety advice because we know South Africa is among the finest places on the planet to live if you’re a hiker, and we want to make sure you get back home to your family unharmed. 

In the mountain ranges, things can rapidly go from good to bad. There’s a good reason why people say mountain ranges can be dangerous, and unfortunately, the explanation is not a happy one. What might appear to be a fun day closer to the bottom on the slopes might turn out to be quite the opposite once you reach the peaks. Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) and The Mountain Club of South Africa Search and Rescue (MSAR) each responds to an average of 3 incidents per week, with the Western Cape accounting for eighty percent of those incidents. 

Therefore, these are the best people to ask for guidance on how to cope with stormy weather, and they have summed up the safety precautions to take on mountains in three simple steps: 

  • Get yourself ready for the journey. 
  • Always be ready for the worst-case scenario. 
  • Find out who to contact. 
  • Let’s delve deeper. 

Make Sure You Are Well-prepared for the Trip

Simply put, you need to be aware of what to anticipate during the trip, and then plan, prepare, and pack appropriately. Not only should you have a goal in mind, but you should also be familiar with your route, including all possible exits and alternate options. 

As soon as you leave the relative safety of the parking lot and the valley, you may find that there are no guideposts in the surrounding mountains and hills and the weather may begin to worsen. You must have a strong command of navigation to arrive at your destination and return to a secure location. 

Take a look at the forecast! Make sure that you are aware of the conditions that you will face to properly plan for them. And don’t forget to bring enough water with you! You have more than what you will require. This point simply cannot be emphasized enough. 

You Should Always Be Ready for the Worst-case Scenario

In other words, you should anticipate that things will not go according to plan. The number of potential dangers during a hike makes it a poor choice. Hike in groups, and before you set out, have a discussion about and reach a consensus on a thoughtful plan. Evaluate the potential dangers that you will face on your journey, as well as the means to avoid them. 

During the hike, it is important to keep an eye on the group, their abilities, the weather, their fatigue, the daylight, and whether or not anyone is having difficulty. Always make sure to bring along an “essential kit” with you, which should consist of a flashlight, hot and rain equipment, and a first-aid kit. 

Even if it’s going to be a warm day, you should never forget to bring a jacket. It is possible for the weather to be very different on the opposite side of a slope, or if you get lost and have to extend your hike. When the sun goes down, the air temp can drop significantly very quickly. 

Be Aware of Who to Contact

No matter how well-prepared you are, there will be times when you need to ask for assistance. Make sure that your phone is fully charged before you set out on your hike, and that you have all of the relevant emergency numbers written down and memorized for the area in which you will be hiking (this should include the contact information of the land owner and anyone else who might be nearby). 

However, because mountainous regions are frequently inaccessible, you need to be ready to handle the scenario on your own for some time. It may be several hours before assistance arrives, even though both the MSAR and WSAR have a team standing by. Remember: 

  • There is no cost associated with rescue. 
  • It may take you several hours before you are in a position to call for assistance. 
  • A rescue effort could be delayed for several hours due to the weather and the night. 

Maintain your visibility and get ready to call for assistance. when requesting assistance. ensure that you are prepared with the following information: 

  • Your name, your contact information, and your precise location, When at all possible, communicate your location using a GPS (Know how to obtain and send your GPS Coordinates from your phone) 
  • What occurred, when, and where can we find it? 
  • The total amount of individuals injured and the number of witnesses 
  • The injuries that were sustained and the first aid that was provided 

Who is There to Assist the Local Weather Forecasters?

Since its founding more than 130 years ago, the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) has been at the forefront of volunteer search and rescue efforts in South Africa. An incident that occurred in September 1889 on Table Mountain involving hikers who were caught by the infamous “tablecloth” and were compelled to spend a cold night atop the mountain was among the significant events that led to the formation of the MCSA. This event served as the impetus for the subsequent formation of the MCSA in the year 1891. 

One of the primary focuses of the MCSA ever since it was founded as the organization of search and rescue teams, with the organization’s very first documented rescue occurring on Table Mountain in the year 1893. To this day, the MSAR is in charge of the majority of rescue team operations in South Africa. The organization has five teams spread across the country, including one in Cape Town, one in Hottentots Holland, one in Gauteng, one in KwaZulu-Natal, and one in Eastern Province. 

Their core belief is that non-urban rescue operations require a “team of teams” approach, along with a multi-disciplinary rescue response that is made up of various organizations such as the NSRI, Disaster Management, SAPs, and nature authorities, to name a few. This is the foundation of their philosophy.