Go carry it up the mountain

11 July 2002
IN WHAT has been dubbed the "Great Hoare-Hutt Cable Carry", 15 members of the UCT Mountain and Ski Club and an entourage of helpful attendants have lugged 720-metres of steel cable (weighing 250-kg) 1 700-m up a steep mountain range.

It wasn't just for the exercise, either, reports Kilian Hagemann, skiing convenor of what is UCT's biggest sports club, boasting close on 750 members. According to Hagemann, the club owns 8 000 hectares (known as Zuurberg) of mountain range in the Hex River Mountains, one of the most rugged in the country.

Every winter, club members go skiing on the mountain's niveous slopes. One of the three huts on the mountain, the Hoare-Hutt, is located about 1 700-m up the mountain, with a ski lift perched just above it.

The lift, built in 1958, has however, been rotting away over the past few years, and was only knocked into an operational state last year. What was still required however, was a long stretch of steel cable.

This the club purchased, at a healthy student discount, from Haggie Rand in Johannesburg last year and managed to transport it – another student discount came in handy here – from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

With no other affordable method of transit at their avail, the club got 15 of its members to volunteer to tote it up the mountain. Coiling it into about 8- to 30-kg loads (no cutting was allowed), the students packed it into their mountain bags, and, with a little slack between each of them, managed to hike it up the steep slopes to the hut.

A retinue of fellow hikers, in turn, carried sleeping bags and other accoutrement that the cable carriers had to unload from their bags. According to Hagemann, the preparation for the climb alone took four hours, with the ascent – punctuated with a number of breaks – demanding another four-and-a-half.

But the hikers had something to look forward to at the end of the climb, as they were to join other members for a Hoare-Hutt birthday party. Just rewards for an intrepid enterprise that many had said would be an act of futility, says Hagemann.

"This was a completely epic trip," he ruminates. "And one that will luckily only again take place in about another 40 or 50 years."

All that has to be done now is for the cable to be laid. But that's another story.

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