Stuck runner flown to safety from remote mountain buttress

Rescuer being hoisted up into the helicopter on Sunday afternoon. Picture: David Nel

Rescuer being hoisted up into the helicopter on Sunday afternoon. Picture: David Nel

Published Aug 15, 2023


A 42-year-old trail runner was flown to safety after he called for help, reporting he was stranded in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve at the weekend.

Wian Koch had set out at 10am on Sunday with the intention to run and hike the Twin Peaks route. Unfamiliar with his intended route, he used a popular mobile hiking app to help follow the trail.

According to Koch, the path became faint and difficult to follow after nearing the top of the trail through Nerina Kloof. He proceeded to turn and follow the path back down the mountain.

“As I went around the mountain, I started climbing and quickly realised that it was very steep, but I didn’t want to go back down so I just continued up, eventually went over the top and tried to find my way down, still following the trail.

“I was halfway down when the route took me into the gorge where I got stuck. It just became steeper and steeper, and I kept looking at the trail on my phone which said I was still on track.

“But eventually it became so steep that I was not able to continue.

“Luckily I had some reception and I phoned my wife, who got me some help,” said Koch.

A team of four CapeNature rangers were sent to try and assist in locating Koch.

He was found in the narrow gorge and assisted roughly 80m higher up the steep buttress to a point where a helicopter could see him.

A team on board the rescue helicopter were hoisted down to a point close to Koch. He was helped into a rescue harness and hoisted up into the helicopter, before being flown to a nearby landing zone.

David Nel, a spokesperson for Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR), said: “The trail runner did the right thing. He stopped and called for help when he felt unsafe.”

Outdoor lovers are urged to memorise this crucial WSAR emergency number: 021 937 0300

Cape Times