WATCH: A 24-year-old rock climber suffered serious knee injury along the Nanaimo River.
Sunday’s Thanksgiving dinner was interrupted for many search and rescue volunteers in Nanaimo when they received a call that there was an injured rock climber near the Nanaimo River.
“This trail here leads down to what is known as the Sunnyside and Lower Deck climbing area,” described Nanaimo Search and Rescue (SAR) president Carly Trobridge. “The subject was located somewhere down in this area parallel to the river.”
“So she was belaying and the lead climber took a whipper and she lost her footing and smashed into the rock with her knee,” said Nanaimo SAR volunteer Janet Rygnestad who had hiked down to the woman’s location.
When crews finally made it down the steep bank to her location she was found to be in severe pain.
“It was quite a hard walk down initially because she was right down by the river,” said Rygnestad. “When we arrived there we realized that she was not going to be able to walk out of there on her own.”
“She was fairly injured,” added Trobridge. “And wasn’t able to bear any weight at all on that leg and in quite a lot of pain.”
There was no way to take her out by stretcher so they put her in a stretcher and lifted it up to the top, about 60 metres, using a rope and pulley system.
About 20 volunteers from Nanaimo, Arrowsmith and Ladysmith SAR teams were called in along with the extension fire department.
“So we set up a 200-foot twin rope high angle rope system and hauled her up the cliff in the stretcher,” said Rygnestad.
It was a lengthy operation taking over four hours as they lifted the victim straight up in the dark.
“It was the first high angle rescue that we’ve had in quite a while but I think the response that we showed yesterday is just a testament to the great training that we do you know week to week,” said Nanaimo SAR training officer James Szarka. “Everyone was really prepared, everybody knew exactly what they were doing and it was a smooth operation.”
It’s been a busy year for the team with medical evacuations. This was their 40th. They normally have 25 all year long.