Off a cliff into the mists

November 5th, 2015 by dad

Dorje and I have been ziplining before, the first time being in a lightning storm above the Tsitsikamma Forest, and the second time a few days later across the waterfalls in the same area. But that was December 2013, so it was time to visit the one right on our doorstep, in the Hottentot’s Holland Mountains.

We chose a wet weekend to do it, and the view below disappeared into the mists as we shuddered our way up to the starting point. Some of the group grumbled about the view, but the mists added to the atmosphere, and the platform on the other side of the first line was hidden from sight, so launching was a leap into the unknown.

With visibility so low, and with it being the first line, most people braked too hard and ended up stranded on the line. It was made worse by the guide being barely visible, and most people mistaking his frantic signals to speed up as frantic signals to brake. Dorje being so light, ended up well away from the platform.

We probably spent as long on the first line as on the rest put together. Soon, everyone began to get the hang of it, and as we descended, the mists cleared, revealing the glorious views below.

Dorje, being so light, quite often ended up short, dangling above the ravine even without any braking at all. So, by the time we got to the fastest line, Dorje has probably forgotten how to brake. As he came hurtling in, the guide frantically signalling him to slow down, Dorje misread the signal as speed up. There was an almighty crash as he hit the emergency brake, and was then flung up, hitting his head, and then slowly sliding back down the line. The guide seemed very concerned, repeatedly asking him whether he was OK, but the helmet did the job it was supposed to, and all that happened was that Dorje had to pull himself back to the platform, a technique he was getting lots of practice in.

It wasn’t a surprise that, with the next line being much more sedate, Dorje braked too hard on the next line and again came to halt far from the platform. Cue more upside-down hauling himself to the platform.

It’s only an hours drive from Cape Town, and well worth it – don’t be put off by a little bit of rain. Unless you’re really scared of heights, the most strenuous part was the bone-shattering drive to the top.

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