Date of Incident
I sustained serious head injuries, as such cannot remember the incident but this is the story as I have been told:
My climbing partner and I had been climbing at Vicarage Cliffs all day, increasing the difficulties of the climbs as we went on. On our last climb Harpoon (E2) I lead first. This was about at the top of my ability but for some reason I took my helmet off! I got to the top of the climb, placing minimal gear as the climb is pretty blank, and clipped into the 2 (very rusty!) pegs. Something happened, perhaps a rockfall, slip, or both, and I fell. As my weight came onto the rope, both pegs snapped and, as my previous gear (2 very small nuts) had come out, I sustained a ground fall from 30-40ft.
As it turned out, we were very isolated. We were out of range for mobile signal and a long way from any roads. My climbing partner ran to a nearby farm to call for help and a helicopter was sent. Apparently there was some confusion as to who to send, Air Ambulance, Coast Guard, or mountain rescue, and they sent Coast guard, as we were so close to the sea. There was lots of difficulty getting me off the cliff as I had fallen into a small gap in the rocks.
I sustained lots of injuries-shattered ankle, double fracture of Ulna and Radius, multiple spine and neck fractures and skull fractures. I am still recovering but consider myself extremely lucky to be walking and talking! Apart from ongoing soreness I should make a full recovery.
Always wear a helmet and never trust in-situ gear. Also, be aware of phone signal/where to get help from. If climbing sea cliffs again take a Personal Location Beacon!
Trad rock climbing
Serious injury requiring medical treatment
Rescue Services Involved?
Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Devon)
For more advice and guidance on good practices visit BMC skills
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.