A year ago, our alien clearing team underwent a High-Altitude Training Course with Dion Tromp, making it possible for them to clear alien plants in areas that are only accessible with rope access equipment. Working at these high altitudes is a dangerous task but critical for our area which has many areas that can’t be accessed by normal clearing teams. Our objective was to provide the team with the best training and equipment so that they can perform these tasks as safely as possible. The work is crucial for our Korentepoort Alien clearing project, which involves clearing a kloof below the Korentepoort Dam that supplies water for the town and agricultural community of Riversdale.
PURPOSE OF THIS TRAINING
In January 2023, the high-altitude clearing team, along with Ricardo (project manager) and Twakkie (quality controller), attended a 2-day review training course. The course was once again presented by Dion Tromp at the beautiful Korentepoort Dam in Riversdale, Western Cape. This training course was conducted to test and ensure our team’s recollection of all the safety precautions, the tying of different knots, and to check the standard of the gear. On the first day, Dion briefly discussed high-altitude training in general, what procedures to follow when putting on the high-altitude climbing gear and what knots to tie in different scenarios. He discussed the importance of safety when operating at these heights and that the team must remember that safety is a joint responsibility. Everyone is responsible for checking each other and communicating to ensure that no mistakes are made.
After the brief discussion, the team went ahead and put on their equipment. Every team member checked the harness and each equipment piece and ensured that nothing was ripped, broken, or missing. Dion also reinformed the importance of tying the correct knots and securing them (making sure the knot will not come undone) and closing the carabine (which is a gear piece that essentially holds every other equipment piece in place).
After a short break, the team commenced the practice of forming an anchor on level ground, using trees as anchor points. This rehearsal was done to ensure that the team could recall how to plan an anchor, what knots to use to secure the anchor, and how to execute the procedure effectively.
Afterward, the team was instructed to form a ‘lifeline’, this is used as a ‘path’ in high elevations to make a more secure and safe route to follow when walking at these altitudes. Despite it raining the whole of the first day, the team did a fantastic job.
On the second day, the team went up into the Korentepoort dam kloof with all their equipment. It was the perfect day, with no rain, to do a practical assessment. Dion explained that a practical demonstration must be completed, using the previous day’s training lesson and commentaries as a guideline. This procedure included planning and forming an anchor, descending the cliff to the designated area, with a rope bag, and ascending again.
The team executed the procedure perfectly and Dion was happy with the training session and confidently allowed them to continue the work in the kloof.
This short training session was conducted to refresh our team’s memories and reinforce the bond the team members have with each other (after their well-deserved vacation break). The training was done to remember all the necessary steps that need to be followed when doing high-altitude climbing as safely as possible.
Thank you to Dion Tromp for this essential training session with our High-altitude climbing team.
GVB Conservancy Staff