An experienced climber who fell down a rocky section of Mt. Rexford Saturday is lucky to be alive.
The 41-year old man and his 16-year old nephew were completing a challenging, technical climb, near Chilliwack, over the weekend.
They’d reached the summit spire of Mt. Rexford, after making it up the most difficult section, and were on their way down into class 3 terrain, when one of them fell.
The climber fell 60 feet, cartwheeling down before landing on a granite ledge.
That ledge likely saved his life.
“I’ll forever be amazed that he came to stop on that ledge,” said Chilliwack Search Manager Doug Fraser.
It became an “epic” rescue for the local SAR members, assisted by a Cormorant 442 to lift the injured climber off the summit pyramid in the dying light.
Fraser said it took more than nine hours “to access, stabilize and transport” the injured climber off the mountain.
“It actually was a series of fortunate events that followed.”
Below the ledge where the climber stopped was a 1000-foot drop.
That’s where he remained, after injuring both his leg and ankle, until help came along.
In the four-second video of the flight near the mountain SAR volunteers spot the light that the climber was shining to attract help.
The 442 Squadron from Comox was called in to assist, due to deteriorating weather conditions expected, with lightening visible in the distance.
Injuries sustained by the climber included a broken bone, ankle and leg, and lacerations.
Four SAR members had been dropped off on the mountaintop by a helicopter from Valley Helicopters, to help stabilize the man for transport. The chopper had about one more minute of flight time or daylight left when he got back to the base.
Two other climbers, who were on a spire across the valley, witnessed the fall.
“I have huge praise for those two other climbers, getting down the mountain as quickly as they did to call 9-1-1,” said Fraser.
“If they hadn’t have managed to do that as quickly as they did, it might have meant a more tragic ending in this case. As it stood things could not have gone any better.”