Climber describes partner's 20-metre fall on the Chief
Published Wednesday, September 6, 2017 5:51PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 7, 2017 8:01PM PDT
A rock climber tumbled 20 metres from the top of Stawamus Chief on Wednesday and had to be rescued by a search and rescue helicopter and his climbing partner says if it weren't for his helmet he likely would not have been OK.
Franz Nagy was climbing with a friend from Vancouver Island he's known for several months and climbed with a few times. Nagy says his friend is less experienced than he is, but wanted to lead the way for the final leg of the climb up the Chief.
"When we got to the top he placed some gear, and it wasn't placed properly," Nagy said. "When he fell both of those pieces ripped out and he took a decent sized fall down the corner… I couldn't see him. I was just yelling."
The climber was immediately knocked unconscious when he hit the side of the mountain. Luckily, some more climbers below were able to lower him onto a ledge and call 911.
That's when search and rescue volunteers performed an aerial rope rescue to bring the injured climber to safety. He was taken to Vancouver General Hospital, where he's still recovering.
Nagy says his friend regained consciousness after about a minute, but had blood all over his face from an obvious head injury.
"If he wasn't wearing a helmet… yeah, it would've been bad," he said.
Landon James with Squamish Search and Rescue says calls about rockclimbers are fairly rare—they're a community that tends to be prepared.
"It's definitely not as common as twisted ankles with people hiking," he said.
Unlike hikers who climb mountains in innapropriate footwear, James says these climbers appeared very prepared.
"These were not people who just decided to scramble up the side of the rock," he said. "They were equipped climbers. They had ropes, they had helmets, harnesses, everything."
But still, accidents can happen to anyone.
Jacob Jones is another rock climber who was at the mountain the day of the dramatic rescue.
"It had to happen to someone. But I think it makes the whole community more aware of the inherent risks," he said.
Nagy says the experience was scary, but has checked in with his friend since and thinks he'll be OK.
After his friend was rescued, Nagy had to finish the climb himself and then hike back down the mountain. The journey was made more difficult because Nagy's friend had Nagy's shoes and car keys in his backpack—which got thrown down the side of the mountain and lost in the ordeal.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst.