Rock Climbers Injured in 25-Foot Fall in Maine

'Highly-technical' rescue involved about 30 people and hoisting patients up cliff face.


 
 

Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News | | Monday, June 17, 2013


ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine -- A woman and man from Boston were hurt Sunday while rock climbing at Otter Cliffs when a climbing rope broke, according to a park ranger.

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The man and woman were rock climbing around 10 a.m. with a local guide who, along with the man, fell about 25 feet down a sheer rock face onto rocks below, Ranger Richard Rechholtz said Sunday. The guide was unhurt in the fall, he said.

Either the man or the guide -- Rechholtz said he wasn't sure which one -- struck the woman, who was below them when the rope broke. All three people were wearing helmets at the time, the ranger said.

"One of them hit her when they fell," Rechholtz said.

The rope appears to have broken because it wore through while rubbing against a sharp rock, he said. Acadia officials do not release the names of people who are injured in the park.

The man sustained a fractured elbow and a head injury that, according to Rechholtz, is not believed to be life-threatening. The woman is believed to have suffered a dislocated or fractured hip, he said. Both were transported by ambulance to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth for treatment, he said.

Both the man and the woman had to be hoisted back up the cliff face and then carried in litters to ambulances waiting nearby on the Park Loop Road, according to Rechholtz. It was a highly technical rescue that involved about 30 people from the park, Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue, Bar Harbor Fire Department and other climbing guide services, he said.

Rechholtz said that it was about 2 p.m., four hours after the accident occurred, by the time the injured climbers had been hoisted back up to the road and loaded onto the waiting ambulances.

He said the number of rock climbing incidents that have resulted in rescue efforts, including one earlier this spring involving a University of Maine student, has increased in recent years, mainly because of increased popularity in climbing. In 2012, he estimated, there were two or three rescues in the park involving injured rock climbers.

"We're seeing a lot more climbing accidents in the past few years than we have in the past," Rechholtz said. "I think there are more people involved in this activity."



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