As requested by Arno, I will try and recount my rockfall story here (its a bit of a long story but I need the word count for context). Me and two friends went hiking up Duiwelskloof in Banhoek area, Stellenbosch. It is a very deep, narrow gorge with steep walls. Big parts of it actually qualifies as a “slot canyon”. We set up camp in a spot where the walls are about 600m high and the canyon is only about 50m wide. There was a troop of baboons ahead, and our moving up the kloof forced them up the steep canyon walls. About 30 minutes after camp was pitched, we heard the first rockfall. Within 100m from us. We laughed it off.
Then we heard another rockfall. And another one. And another one. And yet another. Our laughs became more nervous, but we still remained calm. All of a sudden, a rockfall right above us. You could hear the rocks dislodge high above, followed by 2 seconds of silence, then a loud crack as the rock hits something on the way down, followed by a demonic “vrrrrr” sound as the rocks accelerate down towards us. Then they would hit something in our close vicinity, and it would rain pieces of rock everywhere. Vertical, diagonal, horizontal, ricocheting against trees and the canyon walls. The closest rock landed 2m from me. One rock fell on my friend’s bed. It sounded like Afghanistan. We realised we are in grave danger.
We ended up abandoning our camp, running upstream to go hide behind a big tree. We sat there for a good hour, waiting for the rockfalls to stop. It was getting dark, and we thought the baboons had likely dislodged the rocks and they will settle as soon as it gets dark. But it didnt stop. We would hear the “vrrrr” sound, then duck and cover, and then rocks would just splatter everywhere. We eventually ran back to camp, just before dark. Decided our camp location is too dangerous. Even more rockfalls as we hastily packed up our camp to evacuate.
And now, to evacuate. If we moved down the canyon, we would have had to down-scramble a dangerous section in the dark and then move down a scree slope for about an hour before finding anything that resembles a campsite. And upstream was the great unknown. My friend only had his tested sunglasses, not his real glasses, so he was essentially blind. And afraid of heights. We decided to go upstream, and by the grace of God we found a safe-enough campsite just as complete darkness ascended, after about 30 minutes of walking.
Notes to self: (1) baboons can dislodge rocks (both intentionally and unintentionally)
(2) Never camp close to steep canyon walls
(3) When you hear a rockfall, however far away it sounds, duck and cover. It took the rocks up to 5 seconds to reach us, and they came in at all angles from all directions.
(4) They dont just fall straight down, they mostly hit another rock and splatter horizontally in all directions.