Climber survives 20-metre fall
Thursday, Jan 05, 2017 06:00 am
An experienced Bow Valley ice climber had a relatively lucky escape after taking a 20-metre fall on the first pitch of Carlsberg Column on Mount Dennis in Field, B.C. on Wednesday (Dec. 28).
The man, in his 30s, was the lead climber on the area’s classic grade 5 climb when he lost his balance and fell about 20 metres, hurting both ankles, including a serious, open fracture on one.
“He was on the first of three pitches and fell approximately 20 metres before he was caught by the belayer,” said Brian Webster, Parks Canada’s visitor safety manager for Banff, Yoho and Kootenay.
“He injured both ankles in the fall, but, given the length of the fall, it could have been quite a bit worse. He was unlucky to injure his ankles, but it could have been so much worse.”
Because the pair was on the first pitch, the injured climber’s partner was able to lower him directly to the ground, securing him on a ridge at the base of the route.
Parks rescuers used a helicopter long line to get the injured man back to the trailhead, where a B.C. ambulance was waiting for him.
Webster said the climbers were experienced and knew their limits.
“But I think the lead climber had a little bit of bad luck and a moment of inattention, which resulted in the fall,” he said.
“He was on a less steep section where he was maybe not paying as much attention. If you do slip and start sliding, you’re not going to stop.”
Webster said this accident speaks to the need to put in as much climbing protection as possible, even on easier terrain.
“It’s a common tendency on easier terrain not to put in as much protection,” he said. “It’s easy to put in more ice screws and in moments like this, it could pay off.”
The next day on Thursday (Dec. 29), STARS was called to Kananaskis Country after a 42-year-old woman sustained injuries from falling ice.
Kady Hobbins, a spokesperson for STARS, said the woman was in stable condition when they transported her to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.