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Cape Town - Thirty-five years ago, Cape Town businessman Gunter Zeppel could have died when he fell 80m on Jacob’s Ladder, a famous climbing site on Table Mountain.
But he survived with his close friend and climbing companion Garth Bithell at his side, and had a long recovery in hospital.
So it was with “great sadness” that Zeppel learned of the death of his friend on Table Mountain on Sunday at a spot not far from where he landed on the rocks decades earlier.
Bithell, 54, had been hiking at India Venster, the most direct route to the three main rock climbing crags on the mountain.
“He loved to go for walks and climbs on Table Mountain. Sometimes his girls went with him,” said his former wife, Gail Bithell, from her home in Vredehoek.
His “girls” are his two daughters, Carrie, 28, and Tammy, 26. The couple also have a son, Gareth, 24.
“But he was alone on Sunday and he had a heart attack,” said Gail.
His body was found by fellow hikers at Fountain Ravine, just below Fountain Ledge.
“I know that is where he would like his ashes scattered,” his ex-wife said.
Zeppel said: “We both started climbing in the mid-70s and both spent much of our lives on the mountain.
“I SMSed him from the mountain on Saturday and asked where he was. He said he had a new pair of boots and would be going up on Sunday. He loved getting out of the city, into the open spaces. He loved the mountain. It’s quite tragic.”