Cape Town - Friends of Ilan Blecher, the UCT student who plunged to his death on Table Mountain on Sunday night, took to Facebook on Tuesday to pay their respects to the 19-year-old.
Most remembered Blecher’s optimism and “bright smile”, while others took solace in the fact that the hiker died doing something he loved.
“Rest in peace Ilan, you wonderful, kind, loving person. Every memory I ever shared with you was one of happiness and adventure,” wrote Jess Tyrell.
Rachel Sloth-Nielsen said: “The saying, the good ones die young has never been more accurate… Ilan, you will always be missed.”
Daniel Shepherd recalled how the student would always greet everyone with a “huge naughty grin on his face”.
Blecher had gone missing in Newlands Forest on Sunday afternoon. The zoology and botany major was walking with his older brother Mischa, but the pair split up so that Mischa could finish his work at UCT'.
When Blecher failed to appear at his family home the next morning, authorities were alerted and a team of about 30 rescuers went into the forest to try to find him.
At 4.30pm Blecher’s body was found at the bottom of Dark Gorge, a ravine leading to the saddle between Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak.
His body was recovered at 8pm.
Wilderness Search and Rescue commander Anwaaz Bent said the recovery effort was “extremely technical”, involving ropes and a descent down a steep cliff. “This was made all the more difficult by cold winds and the fact that it gets dark on that side of the mountain after sunset.”
SANParks spokeswoman Merle Collins said it was suspected the student had slipped and fallen.
“It’s not a popular route ,” said Andy Wood of the Mountain Club of SA. “It’s for the serious mountain walkers and climbers.”
During winter the route could be challenging because the rocks were damp and slippery.
“It’s important that people stick to basic mountain safety. Never hike alone and always mark out your route and let people know where you are going, so if something does go wrong we know where to start looking.”