The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

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GBM
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The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby GBM » Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:38 pm

Hi all

I have just read the better part of the 74 post on the India Venster situation and the further fatality to add to the list of accidents on that part of the mountain.

I read with interest the email note about seeking a legal solution. Being a climber and a lawyer I am interested in assisting assuming there is a real consensus out there to put some pressure on Sanpark. I would gladly give of my time on a pro deo basis, I believe that this type of action will almost certainly be in the public interest and that the risk of costs (assuming the application failed) would largely be curtailed because of the public interest factor.

I don't believe that suing Sanpark for damages is the solution; the only person(s) that could realistically do that would be those who have suffered loss or injury, directly or indirectly, because of the lack of action by Sanpark to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to prevent serious injury and death. That type of case in the Cape High Court would probably take the better part of 3-4 years, by the time it came to trial there will probably have been more casualties, the original incident long forgotten.

My initial view, without delving into the law and facts further, would be to bring an urgent application in the Cape High Court for an order directing that Sanpark do something, just what that is will depend on the facts that I have at my disposal and whether there is a real motivation by climbers or hikers to drive this thing. Such an application is made on notice and affidavit, effectively it’s a request, on an urgent basis, for the High Court to issue an order directing SanPark to either put up more signs, or ladders or whatever it is that the serious climbing community believes should be happening. Since I would most likely obtain approval from my EXCO to deal with this matter on a pro deo (public interest) basis there would be no legal costs involved. The risk of having to pay costs if the application failed would be largely curtailed given the public interest factor; the Court has a discretion to grant costs - I believe that even if such an application failed the Court would be reluctant to order a group of concerned persons or climbers to foot a legal bill for Sanpark in circumstances when there is a significant public interest factor.

Bottom line, what I would require is a group of concerned and committed persons willing to act as Applicants in the matter. If there is a general consensus to do something you are welcome to contact me to set up a meeting to discuss the options. Its probably best to contact me via my personal email i will then gladly provide telephonic contact details and further particulars.

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Hann
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby Hann » Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:43 am

Humour my vent:

Suing?
Very good idea.
Let’s sue the mountain to save people from themselves.
Next we can sue the mountain for rock climbers how place a cam inappropriately and have an accident resulting. Wait, we can sue Black Diamond too! Double whammy....
Then we can poison all the cape cobras in case somebody gets bitten, Glue on all those lose holds, pave the sandy path just in case somebody slips and sprains an ankle, but up a rails where the path is close to the edge and make everybody ware hard hats in case a photographer drops a camera from the lookout point.
What about making all the guard rails at the lookouts from 3m high safety glass....just in case somebody climbs over the current rail and falls down the cliff.

Yes, a proper sign indication the potential danger should be put up!
The MCSA is currently meeting with the authorities to get this done (I believe the meeting is tonight)

Question: If you see a cliff which obviously is high enough to cause injury or death. Who is responsible when you decide to climb it? This goes for the India Venster scramble and for those who solo Jacobs Ladder.

In this same philosophy: whose responsibility is it if you look at the Platteklip stairs, decide to walk it and die from a resulting heart attack. Should we now sue the stair builders because the stairs are too steep? The people who published the guide book who didn't warn you of the heart rate increase?

What happend to common sence and making your own, responcible adult decision?

Please, each and every one of you who gets emotionally involved when there is an accident or a death on the mountain. Please organise your thoughts before posting your half backed ideas. The previous "India Venster route: are we liable for injury or death?" is utterly ridiculous to read and an insult to all those that have sustained injury on a mountain, insensitive to all those that have been in need of rescue and embarrassing to those that have been on a rescue team.

Man, that was therapeutic. Thanks to all the previous posters.....

mokganjetsi
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby mokganjetsi » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:05 am

hann, really, i do not think the views shared are out of line at all. india venster is an obious PATH which make it reasonable to let people believe you can WALK up and down it. sure, there is no one with a stick chasing people up-and-down the scrambling section, but given the effort to get there it is less likely that good judgment will prevail. going on about cliffs and cobras and suing for ridiculous stuff is just not fair to the situation (okay, i know you were venting a bit).

in my view it is TMNP's responsibility that adequate warning signs are in place (bottom and top) and even that metal rungs are installed. the 1st 2 times i went up india venster i did not even notice the warning signs and i think that is the case for a lot of people. that fact of the matter is that most accidents on this route can and should be prevented.

it is unlikely that i will ever fall from india venster, but i go with the point snort raised that the unneccessary danger could easily be removed without substantial damage to the environment.

pierre.joubert
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby pierre.joubert » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:17 am

Hann dude...nice vent. To SUE someone means to claim monetary damages from them, and differs from
GBM wrote:bring[ing] an urgent application in the Cape High Court for an order directing that Sanpark do something

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Hann
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby Hann » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:28 am

@ mokganjetsi and all those that want to see a change.

I'll put up the sign and install the ladder myself if it would make a difference.

Point is this:
1) If the ACTUAL cliff does not scare you enough to turn back, will a PICTURE of a cliff deter you from climbing it? A sign in Disa gorge on the Helderberg is a simple skull and cross-bone motive. That scares me, but I've had to fetch my brother off this route...
2) If a ladder is installed, will traffic not increase resulting in a similar percentage of injury?
Take the ladder up Mount Aux Sources as example. Does anybody have any statistics of incident for this ladder?

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XMod
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby XMod » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:34 am

Hann get a life! GBM's post represents an extremely generous offer to do something positive, constructive and realistic about the dangers of this well used and obvious path up the mountain, that hundreds of people mistake for and easy way up or down. Your pathetic attempts to disrupt this thread are not appreciated. People are dying on this stretch of mountain, take some time to really think about that before posting a bunch of garbage that is neither positive, constructive nor real.

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Hann
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby Hann » Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:24 pm

Let me be clear.

Concerning signs, ropes, ladders.
I'm completely indifferent and will not argue for or against it.
I'll even help install it, like I said.
If the meeting of MCSA and Sanpark delivers fruit I'll be one of the guys carrying the sign/ladder/whatever up.

If it will make a difference remains to be seen.

However.
Going to court, pointing finger, passing blame is ridiculous.

Mountains are beautiful and deadly.
So are oceans (shall we sue the NSRI next if they don't make it in time to a drowning victim?)

The responsibility to make rational choices in the mountain remains with the mountain user.

mokganjetsi
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby mokganjetsi » Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:35 pm

he hann, i get what you're saying, but we are talking about a PATH here; not the mountain in itself........ TMNP gets funded with taxpayer money and it is their responsibility to ensure reasonable safety measures. i'm totally miffed at them for not having done something about this yet.

remember how quick they were to remove sam allerton's "white apostle" statue on a ledge on TM a few months ago? therafter rapping him over the knuckles because he erected it without their permission (even though his goal was to draw attention to the beauty and fragility of nature)? and they even "accidentaly" broke the statue when removing it!!!!! if they only showed the same diligence with reasonable safetly measures here LIVES could have been spared. i personally think it would do them good to get court-ordered or whatever. TMNP is an organisation that is there to manage the park in the interest of nature and the people; they're not friggin King of the mountain.... OK, that's my rant.

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Justin
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby Justin » Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:56 pm

Slow down everyone... I doubt anyone will be taking legal action (or need to).
Before we get too hasty lets hear what TMNP have to say first.

GBM, thank you for your professional opinion on the matter (not said sarcastically !)


Good job to whoever put the rope up on the scramble :salut:

mokganjetsi: Won't you please PM/mail me on who is Sam Allerton and what "white apostle" statue did he erect on a ledge??
Climb ZA - Administrator
justin@climbing.co.za

JamesL
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby JamesL » Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:50 pm

Hi Hann,

It's not about sueing them because someone took it onto themself to go up a dangerous path. I think you are missing the point there. Cape parks has been sent many letters regarding the safety measures needed to make the scramble on India Venster safer. During this time they have not even bothered to respond. Lives have been lost during this time. Now as civilians, we've spoken up but it has fallen onto uninterested ears. A court order is the next step. It's OUR mountain.

India Venster is a thrilling hike, and has all the elements of a classic walk in the hills. It has steep sections and people like this. I'm also actually indifferent about it all. I just can't stand the thought of anyone else being killed here because of not having at least tried to make the hike safer. I'll probably be sad to see rungs glued to the sections. I've always like the scramble, but is it worth deaths?

Whoever roped it up in the meantime. Thank you thank you. We'll all just need to keep an eye on the ropes.

SNORT
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby SNORT » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:12 pm

In my description of the trail I have mentioned this on the WIKI:

Objective Dangers of The India Venster trail This trail is extremely dangerous for a five main reasons.

1. Its start is seductive as begins at the hub of activity at the lower cableway station up a very well engineered section below the cable of the cable-car. This is so despite the sign at the contour path that states: “WARNING: Extremely dangerous route with steep rock climbing and difficult navigation. DO NOT attempt this route if inexperienced. Use at own risk.” The second sentence can be misleading as there have been several instances of experienced individuals familiar with the route falling and injuring themselves.

The sign also then states: “Recommended safe hiking route Platteklip Gorge via Contour Path”. It is not intuitive to continue to this other trail as it is more than 1km away. And where the India Venster trail leaves the contour path it does not seem intimidating at all. The difficulty starts much higher when the summit seems to be very close and one feels compelled to continue and very reluctant to turn back. The top that seems so near, lures one upwards at that point!


Ideally one should be accompanied with someone with recent experience of the route and that is also familiar with your level of competence and experience.

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The Jimmy
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby The Jimmy » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:20 pm

The mountain is not "OURS" to chop and change to suit us - this constitutes a lack of respect for the natural challenges it offers, especially for hikers and climbers.

I'm all for putting up signs (I think the one with the crossbones will definitely get anyones attention), but try and leave chains, rungs, whatever else that will detract from the natural state of the route. Warn people of the dangers of the route, i.e. if you don't know what you're doing rather turn back, but don't change the mountain to bring it down to our level.

There are a lot of other scenic trails on TM as well.

Paul Goddard
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby Paul Goddard » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:45 pm

Hann, I suggest you read GBM's entire post.....TWICE ! You are missing the point. The man is offering his services and a possible solution to the problem. He is not suggesting suing anyone, so the all the crap about suing Black Diamond etc is not relevant on this thread at all.
GBM, we appreciate the advice. Thanks

micky
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby micky » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:57 pm

sheesh whats up with all the oversized writing Snort? :roll:

SNORT
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby SNORT » Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:01 pm

The route suck you in....That's the point. Your average Joe cannot even begin to read it for what it is. And that's why it is so unreasonably dangerous at that one point.

JamesL
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby JamesL » Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:12 pm

The Jimmy wrote:The mountain is not "OURS" to chop and change to suit us - this constitutes a lack of respect for the natural challenges it offers, especially for hikers and climbers.

I'm all for putting up signs (I think the one with the crossbones will definitely get anyones attention), but try and leave chains, rungs, whatever else that will detract from the natural state of the route. Warn people of the dangers of the route, i.e. if you don't know what you're doing rather turn back, but don't change the mountain to bring it down to our level.

There are a lot of other scenic trails on TM as well.


Kloof corner hike has 3 sets of chains. Why should Venster be different? It's not about lowering the mountain to our level. That is an overused rock climbing term. This is the most direct hike up the front of Table Mountain. Lets make it safer for everyone and stop being selfish here.

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XMod
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby XMod » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:09 pm

Its nice to dream of 'keeping the mountain pure' and not 'messing with nature', but in the real world people are dying and being severely injured. It is absolutely essential that the route is secured - NO ARGUMENTS! It will always be a natural and popular first choice (however misguided) for people wishing to walk up TM. Park management must be forced into (bullied if necessary) supplying and installing the necessary signage asap, as well as installing a ladder up the gully to the right which would leave the rock scramble inviolate for the romantics. A high scary ladder will fairly quickly become widely known as a feature of the hike, yet will be infinitely safer than the scramble without any aid points.

To the person (whoever they are) who installed the rope - SALUTE!!!!

Nic Le Maitre
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby Nic Le Maitre » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:24 pm

@The Jimmy: The point is: People either ignore or miss the signs pointing out the danger of the Venster Route. There is one point on the route where people regularly come short and that is at the scrambles. Protecting the scrambles will cut down on the number of injuries on the route.
Happy climbing
Nic

Bubbles
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby Bubbles » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:58 pm

if i may say a little something...

The problem with India venster in the same problem that TM has in general.
What you may ask....

to the inexperienced, well experienced, local or tourist:

1. TM is perceived to be a relatively small mountain in comparison to other greats around the world.
2. She is in the middle of the City...so it is assumed rescue comes easy.
3. She has easy access via the cable cart....natural everyone assumes the cable car will
always be running.

and finally...i have many a time..to many to count..come across individuals who CHOOSE not to read the signs warning them of dangerous routes.

We can sue who we like, put signs every where, post the national gaurd, airforce, military and God himself on the mountain to warn people of the danger but if they CHOOSE not to read the signs then what more can we do. :?

maximus
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby maximus » Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:22 am

I use the India Venster path on a regular basis and on more than one occasion come across people who are clearly heading for disaster. I once asked a couple with 3 small children to rather turn around.

The signage need to be looked at! I think a scull and cross bone is a great idea and need to be placed at the top and bottom. Maybe a signage at the top and bottom of the scramble sections might be a good idea. Surely those wont be missed!!!

I don't quite understand the argument of changing/ altering the route by placing chains. In my opinion the route has been changed already. The rock has been worn and polished over the years by thousands of people using the path! As is the case on Lion's Head. And nobody has issues with the chains and ladders there!

I have been involved in various rescues on Venster and it is never a pleasant experience. If we can save some lives by improving the signage it will be worth it!! Lets think clearly and place the value of human life above all.

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XMod
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Re: The legal solution to the India Venster conundrum

Postby XMod » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:09 pm

Interestingly rescue services have called for an urgent meeting to discuss ways of making all the mountain paths safer, this after yet another accident on a different part of the mountain.

We have to realise that the mountain is extremely accessible to everyone and is a major tourist attraction. There will always be floods of people wanting to ascend its flanks. It is a crime not to make every effort to ensure their safety. Table Mountain is a World Heritage site and as such should be accessible to all of the worlds people, if this means installing a few ladders and staircases such as on Lions Head then this should be done. In light of the accidents and loss of life on its slopes, we simply cannot afford to hold onto romantic notions of 'keeping things natural', TM is not Nanda Devi, a revered spiritual center in a very isoltaed locale, but rather an amazing playground slap bang in the middle of the city. As much as I abhor seeing man made structures whilst 'out in nature' (hardly as the roar of traffic is onipresent and the cable car looms overhead) it is a necessary evil in the case of Table Mountain.


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