Thursday, 3 December 2009

Kloofing safely

A few words about jumping safely. Remember that Cape mountain water is very dark due to the natural tannins in the water, and the rocks underneath can be invisible, especially in shadows. Before you jump, be sure that someone has tested the depth of the water below you. Never dive: it's just not worth it. Land feet first, legs together, with your arms at your sides. Spinal surgeons will tell you that anything over 5m is risky, and anything over 10m is inherently unsafe. Believe them. And remember, you can't go back up a compulsory jump: once you've done the first one, you're committed to the rest of the river.

Another warning about jumping. Some people seem to think that jumps are the only worthwhile part of kloofing, that higher is better, and so on. These adrenaline junkies have very little relationship with the kloof they are "doing". For them, I suggest a trip down Suicide gorge (but only if they are sure they can live up to their own big talk) and then sticking to sensible adrenaline sports like bungee and skydiving. Real mountain experiences probably aren't for them.

Another general rule about kloofing safely is that kloofing after rainfall can be extremely dangerous. The power of a kloof in flood, the speed at which the water level can rise, and the height it can reach, will exceed anything you can imagine. If you can't escape from the kloof, retreat as far up the bank as you can go, and sit it out. Pushing on in these conditions can be fatal.

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