Pinnacle needs safety check after fire – climber

Lakeside Pinnacle bfore the fire. Picture: Kathryn Cleary

A popular climbing spot in Lakeside could hold hidden hazards following last month’s Boyes Drive fire, warns a local rock climber.

The fire, on Monday January 16, burnt the area just below the Lakeside Pinnacle and possibly the metal gear placed into the crag itself, says Kathryn Cleary, of Lakeside.

She fears the fire could have weakened the metal bolts climbers fasten into the rock face to run their ropes through.

“If the heat impacted the rock, it could mean that these bolts are now loose or compromised, making it unsafe for climbing. The people that bolt are really experienced and they have to test the rock beforehand to ensure it can take a bolt and hold weight safely.”

Lakeside Pinnacle, she said, offered routes for a range of climbers, from beginners to the more skilled, and was often visited by youth climbing teams and community climbing outreach programmes.

A post on GoodBeta, a climbers’ online forum, the day after the fire, said, “following inspections of the Lakeside crag by members of the community, it looks like the rock is in good shape and safe for climbing”.

But Cleary said she doubted anyone had done a thorough assessment of the rock as it took “time and expertise.”

“It is my opinion that the rock needs to be properly assessed by experts, and a call needs to be made to limit access to that particular area so that the fynbos can heal from the fire. People trekking up and down there will only further the erosion and could result in rock falls,” she said.

GoodBeta editor Emily Wedepohl said she understood the concern, but the climber who had checked the rock had done a “thorough inspection” and while he had found some “shrivelled” bushes, the fire had not reached the actual rock at the crag and was unlikely to have caused any serious damage.

“He is a very experienced climber who has been climbing and opening routes for almost 30 years, nd has a good understanding of rock integrity,” she said.

However, City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse said the fire had been directly above the Lakeside fire station and near rock faces that climbers traversed.

SANParks spokeswoman Lauren Clayton said a fire could destabilise rocks from its heat and by burning vegetation that helped to anchor rocks and surrounding substrate.

SANParks, together with rock climbing associations, would assess the area for vegetation recovery, she said.

Lakeside Pinnacle after the fire. Picture: Kathryn Cleary