The incident happened during the final few moves of the route. The injury was not caused by trauma but rather the position which put too much tensions on the joint, and resulted in the knee cap dislocation.
Once it was determined that the second will not be able to continue, the leader tied him off, escaped the system and abbed down to assist the partner. In the meantime, another climber with rescue background built a 3:1 hoist and passed the rope to the casualty, who was able to stand up on the healthy leg and used his arms to gradually make progress uphill and finally onto the ledge just below the path and the belay stakes.
Once there, the other climber left the crag to contact the rescue services, while the casualty's partner tidied up the rope systems on the ledge, removed redundant gear, and brought food, drink, first aid kit (unncecessary) and extra rescue gear (unnecessary) from the rucksacks on the gearing ledge nearby.
The initial response from the rescue services involved the ground crew and the Air Ambulance. However, because the ground crew were not able to retrieve the casualty from the ledge and to where the helicopter landed, the Coastguard helicopter was called in and after receiving first-aid, the casualty was finally winched off the ledge and transported to hospital.
Overall, the accident can be considered a lucky escape but things could have been much more serious under only slightly different circumstances. If the dislocation had happened only a couple of metres lower or the weather had not been that good, the rescue would have been much more complicated and would have required a more decisive response.
Because of the nature of the injury, there was nothing that could have prevented it. The route was well within the teams capability and both climbers were skilled enough to climb it. Thanks to the help of the third climber, it was possible to secure the casualty quickly and contact the rescue services. However, if it had been only one person performing the rescue, it would have taken much longer to contact the rescue services (at least an hour more is the estimate). A few notes for the future:
- drill the self-rescue techniques regularly as those things need to be performed without much hesitation or thinking, and there's no time to waste,
- always carry rescue kit. Apart from the bare minimum such as prussik loops, consider having more efficient gear such as a micro-traxion, a ti-block, a pulley. The gear in this case had been left in the rucksack, as there was no need for abseil, and while it would have been possible to access the it, it would have taken more time.
- consider the location of the crag, mobile coverage and how to act in case of emergency before starting climbing,
- be ready to wait and have adequate clothing/gear for that. The whole rescue effor took around 4 hours from the moment the injury happened.
Trad rock climbing
Rescue Services Involved?
Coastguard, Air Ambulance
18 May 2021, 06:44:01
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All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.