"It was below 10 degrees, ice cold" after midnight Tuesday as the last people came off South Africa's Table Mountain, having been stranded there for hours, says a rep for the country's national parks. What had kept them there were those who'd suffered a worse fate. The African News Agency reports a male Japanese climber and his local guide fell to their deaths while rappelling down the Arrow Final route on the Cape Town mountain Monday along with a second female climber, who survived. Rescue team member Johan Marais says the two were seen "dangling" around 5pm on ropes roughly 500 feet below a station used by the cable car service that takes tourists up the mountain. "A third person‚ also on a controlled rope‚ is administering CPR to one of the persons," he noted, per TimesLIVE.
After it was determined that a helicopter rescue wasn't possible, it was decided the best way to access the climbers was to stop a cable car above the site and lower rescuers on ropes from an opening in the car's floor, reports the AP. The surviving woman was recovered, and cable car service was resumed shortly after 10pm; the hundreds who'd been stuck at the top were finally off the mountain by 12:30am, and the bodies were retrieved by shortly after 5am. What happened remains unclear. "They were abseiling and were each tied to the rope and all three of them fell the [full] length of the safety rope," Marais tells News24. "There was no more rope." The BBC cites records that show 133 people have lost their lives on Table Mountain since 1980. (This famed Swiss climber died near Everest in 2017.)