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News / Clark County News

Technical rescue team saves climber who fell 25 feet at Beacon Rock

The man had a traumatic hip injury but was rescue before nightfall

By Amy Libby, Columbian Web Editor
Published: March 15, 2024, 7:32am
3 Photos
Members of Region 4 technical rescue team scale Beacon Rock to rescue a climber who fell 25 feet Thursday and suffered severe injuries.
Members of Region 4 technical rescue team scale Beacon Rock to rescue a climber who fell 25 feet Thursday and suffered severe injuries. (Vancouver Fire Department) Photo Gallery

The Washington Region 4 Technical Rescue Team saved a rock climber who fell off a rock wall and suffered a traumatic hip injury Thursday at Beacon Rock State Park, according to the Vancouver Fire Department.

“This was a really tough one. This was a once in a career rescue effort. This is why we spend hundreds of hours training for an event like this. Everyone worked well together and performed professionally and proficiently,” Vancouver Fire said in a statement.

According to the agency, the technical rescue team was called about 1:30 p.m. to Beacon Rock State Park to assist the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office and EMS to rescue a rock climber who had fallen about 25 feet and landed on a ledge about 200 feet off the ground up a rock wall. The injured man and another climber were using ropes to ascend and established climbing path when one fell.

When the rescue team arrived, they created a plan to reach the injured climber using a rope and pulley system that would allow them to safely bring him to the ground. Team coordinator Capt. Chris McBride climbed the wall to deploy the rope system. He was followed by firefighter-paramedic Mike McHugh, who evaluated the patient and found he had significant injuries, including a traumatic hip injury. A third firefighter brought a stokes basket — a metal or plastic basket used in search and rescue to transport sick, injured or disabled people — up the rock wall to help bring the injured climber down using the rope-and-pulley system.

According to Vancouver Fire, the rescue took five hours, with the team narrowly beating nightfall.

The climber, whose identity was not released, was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver.

A battalion chief on scene — the previous tech team coordinator — said: “That was the hardest tech call of my 30-year career. We were on plan D and E. There were so many variables and our last rescuer came off the rock in the dark.”

The Region 4 tech team consists of firefighters from Clark County Fire District 6, Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue and the Vancouver Fire Department. The team is available to respond to incidents in Washington Region 4, including Clark, Skamania, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties 24/7.