Cape Town’s weather has already started changing, to herald the arrival of the wet winter season. Table Mountain and the Cableway Company is ready for hikers and visitors and will stay open during the 2021 winter season, but it is important to remember basic safety tips that are particularly important this time of year.
“Weather conditions can change very quickly, especially if you are a 1000m above the city bowl on top of this New 7Wonders of Nature site. The best bit of advice I can give to anyone planning to visit, is to dress warmly and never to assume that the weather will stay as hot or as cold as when you arrived,” says Wahida Parker, Managing Director at the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC).
“Wear comfortable shoes for balance as it can get slippery on top when it rains. It’s important to take notice of the shorter days which means it also gets darker a bit earlier. Plan your walks or hikes carefully and make sure that by the time it gets dark you are in a safe place.
“If you are planning to use the cablecar for your down journey, please take into account the shorter seasonal operational times and the impact that inclement weather could have on its ability to operate.”
Parker also recommends telling someone if you plan on hiking, especially if you are doing it alone. This way, if you get stuck or lost, people will know where to look for you first. Stay hydrated and take snacks, water and a warm jacket with you. Ideally, you should never hike by yourself.
Cablecar operations will not be closing over this mid-year period for maintenance as it would have done in previous years, explains Emile Streicher, TMACC’s executive manager (technical).
TMACC’s maintenance schedules, tasks and work procedures are guided by the various local machinery regulations, the Swiss Department of Transport (BAV), the Swiss Cablecar Federation (Seilbahnen Schweiz), and the Swiss manufacturer of the entire cableway system.
“Historically, due to large visitor numbers during good weather periods, many of the annual minor maintenance tasks were bundled into a single shutdown in mid-winter. These minor tasks involve extensive testing of safety systems and verification of the condition of critical components,” says Streicher.
“South Africa’s location in relation to Europe (where the major cableway manufacturers and support is located) has always inspired TMACC to be self-sufficient to a large extent. This means that TMACC has (and always have had) an internal technical team which consists of highly qualified, trained and experienced individuals who continuously plan and perform maintenance tasks to the required standards.”
Certain specialist testing services are provided by local companies who are authorized by the Swiss manufacturer to perform such work. The usual visit by Swiss technicians to assist with minor maintenance work, is largely due to their assistance in executing the required work in a shorter time span.
“Routine maintenance tasks are performed internally on a daily basis, with critical inspections and tests performed on a monthly repeat cycle. All inspection and test results are verified against the Swiss standards, and certain critical test results are submitted to the Swiss manufacturer for their perusal and validation,” says Streicher.
Services are categorized into major, minor and routine work. The Cableway’s major service work is performed in 6-yearly cycles. The last major intervention was executed in July and August 2019, during which all required loadbearing equipment was disassembled and tested or replaced. The two moving steel wire ropes which pull the cable cars up and down the mountain, were also replaced. This means that a major service of this extent is only due again in 2025.
“Due to the reduced operating times and the requirement for only minor maintenance items in 2021, the maintenance work will be executed in specific ad-hoc slots instead of having a single, condensed shutdown this year,” says Streicher.
Please follow Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company on social media for operational updates, or visit the website tablemountain.net for further information.