Climber hoisted up rock face in Nanaimo rescue

A 24-year-old Nanaimo woman is recovering from a climbing accident, after volunteers hoisted her up a rock face in a high-angle rope rescue.

B.C. Ambulance requested evacuation support from Nanaimo Search and Rescue at about 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, after the woman’s climbing partner called 9-1-1.

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“She had been belaying her climbing partner. He took a fall and she was shot forward into the rocks and injured her knee quite badly,” Nanaimo SAR president Carly Trobridge said.

The pair was climbing near the Nanaimo River in the “lower deck” section of the Sunnyside climbing area.

About 20 members attended from Nanaimo, Arrowsmith and Ladysmith search and rescue teams, plus the Extension Volunteer Fire Department.

Rescuers set up a dual-rope system from the top of a cliff, rappelling over a ledge to load the woman onto a stretcher.

“The terrain was too technical and too hazardous [at the bottom] to carry a stretcher over, so the most efficient way to extract her was to haul her up with the rope system,” Trobridge said.

After she was hauled to the top, paramedics moved the woman to another stretcher and took her to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

“She’s expected to make a full recovery,” Trobridge said.

“She’s a very tough young lady. She was fairly stoic, in quite a lot of pain.”

Despite the accident, the climbing pair was well prepared, with adequate clothing and supplies in case of emergencies, Trobridge said.

Trobridge reminded other outdoors enthusiasts to prepare for rapid weather changes and temperature drops, which are common at this time of year, and to bring enough food and water for at least 24 hours.

“These climbers could have done that — they had adequate clothing and were set up well, which isn’t always the case.”

It’s been a busy year for Nanaimo SAR, which has already conducted 40 rescues. The group participates in an average 25 rescues per year, Trobridge said.

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