Landing Strip in Mountains

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Should climbers condone landing strips on mountains?

Poll ended at Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:37 pm

Yes, they are better than cable cars
No, shoot the buggers who did it
Um, like I dunno, look at each case
Total votes: 13

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Landing Strip in Mountains

Post by Roland » Wed Sep 27, 2006 4:37 pm

Recently someone brought to my attention the fact that a landing strip had been made at Blouberg (I think on the plains at the top where one starts decending the ramp.) It seems that someone actually mowed a strip of grass so that they could land a microlight there.

Whereas it seems like quite a fine way of missing long weekend traffic and tollgates, cutting out long walk-ins and being very useful in the case of emergencies, I don't know if it sends out the right signal about climbers and conservation. It is probably something that would grow over pretty fast with the first fire-rain cycle, but if used regularly would probably develop ruts and become a bit of an eye-sore.

What do THE PEOPLE think?

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Post by fanta » Wed Sep 27, 2006 5:43 pm

When I first saw the above mentioned runway, I have to admit I was a bit sickened to see it… as it is a bit of an eye-sore…

However after taking a whopping great big winger and buggering up my foot. It was the first thing I thought of, when I realized that I was faced with a long and painstakingly slow walk out!!

The guys there where happy to give me a ride back down to the main rd where I got picked up by my mates…

If I had the privilege of using it I’d love too!

It certainly has its uses in an emergency situations, but I also understand the consequences…

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Post by Hector » Wed Sep 27, 2006 6:10 pm

The strip on Blouberg is pretty visible, but I wouldnt call it an eyesore. And I really doubt its gonna be used alot. As far as I know, not many people have access to a light aircraft, and the approach looks really hairy - you fly straight at the wall to the left of the ramp, and have to just clear it, then try stop before you smash yourself on the boulders at the end of the strip. I reckon if anyone tries that landing too often, theres bound to be an accident! And the grass is pretty lush there, so if its not used it'll quickly grow over.
One method of access thats highly reccomendable is by helicopter. I once got dropped off at the summit tower by chopper, and it really is the way forward. So who's gonna sponsor me a couple of 100k to buy a chopper...

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Post by Rastaman » Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:16 am

It would be awesome to own a chopper.
No more long walk-ins and access issues. I know a pilot who would be keen.
The big snowboarders get dropped off by chopper ontop of mountains. Only issue is the cost, couple of grand an hour to keep it up in the air.

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Post by MarkM » Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:33 am

Personally I think the strip is unnecessary. As far as I'm aware the strip was cut so that a couple of 'hard' climbers could access the mountain quickly because they were trying to complete a circuit of routes on various mountains around southern africa and in the process make a film of the ascents. This all seems a bit selfish to me since the strip was needed/used/created for 2 or 3 people. Why should the area suffer for so few? It's all good and well going out and producing films for personal reasons/sponsors/the general climbing publics adoration, but when it comes at the detriment of a pretty special sensitive environment perhaps it should be given a re-think.

The strip could potentially lead to erosion problems during the upcoming rainy season. Who going to put their hand up to fix it if that does happen?
Open hand, open mind...

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Post by steve » Thu Sep 28, 2006 4:41 pm

Thanks for starting this thread, Roland. I agree with you (MarkM) about a landing strip being unnecessary. More importantly, how is it possible that anyone can simply decide that they wish to go and build such a strip without first considering the ramifications, and getting the appropriate permissions? The environment of the Blouberg massif is particularly precious and delicate. With heavy use a great deal of damage could be caused. As far as I know, even the local folk who go up there to collect grass and firewood have self-imposed limits on what they take and when they take it. It's all about having respect for such places and maintaining them as zones of low human impact. Let's hope it stays that way.

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Response from James Pittman

Post by Roland » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:59 pm

James replied to Neil regarding this and asked that it be sent out. Herewith his response:-

The 2 meter wide swathe of grass on the flat plain at Bouberg was cut by
myself, Marianne Pretorius and a friend, Mike Blyth in order to make it
possible to land two microlight aeroplanes there approximately 3 months
ago. No permanent damage was done as the grass will grow again with the first rains.

Over the weekend of 16 June 2006 Marianne, Mike Blyth (ex-World
Microlight Piloting Champion) and I landed there to climb the Blouberg
during a two and a half week climbing trip around Southern Africa in
microlights. During the trip we filmed 35 hours of film footage which we
are using to make an adventure film which we hope will promote Southern
Africa as a climbing venue. We also landed in the vicinity of and
climbed the Spitzkoppe and the Klein Winterhoek.

Mike, Marianne and I are all nature lovers and would never do anything
which would damage the environment. Although perhaps a slight temporary
eye-sore, the cut grass will grow again shortly. Aeroplanes only landed
there once and will not be able to do so again, since the grass will
already have grown again. Furthermore, the \"runway\" is far too short,
uneven and dangerous ever to use consistently. Landing there even in the
most perfect conditions is an extremely hazardous exercise which I am
confident no-one is likely ever to want to repeat.

I can understand that people would ordinarily be concerned to see such a
development - indeed, I would also not like to see people landing
aeroplanes on the Blouberg as a matter of course. In the circumstances,
however, the exercise was a crazy once-off stunt that is unlikely ever
to be repeated.

Either way, I apologise for any offence caused.

An interesting twist to the tale is that we were coincidentally able to
provide some assistance to an injured climber who was unable to walk
down off the mountain on the weekend of 16 June, by ferrying him off for
transport to hospital. This is not of any significance, however.

I hope that this explains the situation adequately. Please let me know
if you wish to have further details.



PS: I do think that overall we have footage to make a good film which I
hope many a Blouberg lover will enjoy.

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Post by Hector » Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:05 am

Hey Roland, could you email me James' address? Im sure he's got some great pics I can use in the new Blouberg route guide (which despite all appearances I am actually making progress on!). My address is hector[at] Thanks

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Post by Captain Haddock » Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:02 am

Who actually owns the land that Blouberg is on? Were they consulted first? Criminal prceedings should be taken against brash behaviour of this sort on any MCSA land. Celebrity status is no excuse, and the Roc Rally injury shows the consequences...
Billions of blue blistering barnacles!!!

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Post by oOdball » Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:23 am

AAArrgh, 'Tis indeed a storm in a teacup Cap'n... :roll:

Let's look at this incident in context, no-one's building an airport on Blouberg to take tourists up for sundowners (that would seriously raise my hackles).

In any case I was under the impression that brash behaviour was the very essence of climbing. Heard of the 'Stone Masters' anyone? Are these not our hero's?
You have an opinion, so do I. When these differ, please don't confuse your opinion with the truth, nothing is absolute.

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Post by Captain Haddock » Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:02 pm

Climbing in EB's are we?
Billions of blue blistering barnacles!!!

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Post by Hector » Fri Oct 06, 2006 1:16 pm

Blouberg is owned in trust by the local tribe (their name escapes). We climb there by the good grace of their chief. As far as I know he has never been consulted on any climbing activities on the mountain - bolting, route cleaning etc. But the way many of the locals use the mountain, I really dont think a temporary landing strip on the top plateau is gonna be an issue with him. Just below the South Donjon, one enterprising \"farmer\" has strip cleared about a square kilometer of beautiful indigenous forest and thorn-tree veld to make way for meilies. Needless to say, the erosion is already bad, after only two or so years.
I personally dont think much damage was caused by this stunt, I think the whole climbing/flying trip sounds like a really cool adventure and I would jump at the chance to do something similar.
I also think its very unfair to relate the 'Boven accident to the fact that those involved were \"celebrities\". By coincidence I was actually on Blouberg the weekend of the roc Rally. On the drive there we were discussing the chances of a bad accident happening at the rally, and concluded that it was only a matter of time before there was severe pilot error. If you climb 30 routes in a day, you have to tie in 30 times, and that means you've got 30 chances of mis-tying the knot and taking a ground fall when you get lowered. Add to that the fact that by the end of the day you're tired, and that its a competition so the chances are good that you'll rush things and not check knots properly, and sooner or later something bad is gonna happen. Tying knots in the end of an abseil rope is another such mistake that happens when you're tired and rushing. I think the fact that \"celebrities\" were involved in the accident can be attributed more to the fact that serious/good climbers are more likely to be competitive and might therefore be more likely to rush things, than to their brashness or arrogance, as Captain Haddock would imply. People who push limits tend to have more accidents than those that stay warm and safe at home.
Back to the topic, I have asked Justin to post a pic of the offending airstrip, so we can all see what we're actually talking about.

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Post by oubaas » Fri Oct 06, 2006 1:25 pm

Hector. All we ever hear from you is bla bla bla bla and bla.....Dont take everything so serious dude. By the way the rock rally was very cool. You should definately try entering next year. Maybe you will actually chill

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Post by Hector » Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:01 pm

Bla bla bla bla and bla

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Post by ClimbZA » Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:03 pm


Here's a pic of the \"Landing Strip\" being discussed...

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Post by ielix » Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:12 am

U. G. L. Y. you aint got no alibi!

Ok ok ill stop…

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