File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – A German tourist had to be rescued in a complicated procedure in very windy conditions after a 25m plunge on Table Mountain, luckily having landed on a narrow ledge against a lone tree.

The 47-year-old man sustained suspected multiple fractures to his leg, arm, ribs and possibly his spine after falling on the front face of Table Mountain above the Devil’s Peak Saddle path area while climbing with a friend.

The Peninsula Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) was activated after his hiking partner called for help at 2.25pm on Wednesday.

"This section of the mountain is known to be a more technical area with steep scrambles and routes that require rope plus safety aids," the WSAR said. 

"Rescuers were dispatched to the start of the Saddle path on Tafelberg road. Due to the strong wind at the time, the use of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) as well as the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (TMAC) was ruled out.

"Once the rescue team had climbed up to the location of the patient, an assessment was made. Further back-up was requested in order to prepare for a very technical manual stretcher extraction of the 47-year-old German tourist to the top of the mountain. 

"He had sustained suspected multiple fractures to his leg, arm, ribs and possibly his spine and other parts of his body as well."

The South African Air Force was contacted for the possible use of one of their military helicopters. However, in the end 22 Squadron, based at Air Force Base Ysterplaat, was tasked to fly for this operation.

By this stage, about 35 volunteer and paid professional rescuers were involved in the rescue, preparing to receive the SAAF helicopter at the scene of the incident. 

"The patient was stabilised and secured in a rescue stretcher, after which he was hoisted into the helicopter and flown to the dedicated landing zone at Groote Schuur Hospital. 

"Here he was transferred to a road ambulance, which transported him to a private medical facility for further treatment.

"The rest of the rescue party safely escorted the hiking partner of the injured tourist off the mountain.

"It was learnt that the party of two were attempting to ascend Table Mountain via a lesser-used route when the terrain proved too challenging for them. 

"After turning back, they tried to retrace their way when one of them slipped and fell a distance of approximately 25 metres. 

"He landed on a narrow ledge against a lone tree, which prevented him from falling over the edge. This most certainly saved him from much more severe injuries or worse."

Cape Times