UMaine student injured in rock climbing fall at Acadia National Park

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted April 28, 2013, at 8:21 p.m.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — An Old Town man who attends the University of Maine suffered significant injuries Sunday afternoon when he fell while rock climbing on the eastern face of Champlain Mountain, according to a park ranger.

The man was not wearing a helmet when he fell between 20 and 25 feet at the South Wall climbing site, Ranger Richard Rechholtz said Sunday. In keeping with the park’s policy about medical response calls, Rechholtz did not release the man’s identity.

Rechholtz said that the man was transferred by Bar Harbor ambulance to Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, but was expected to be transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor sometime Sunday evening. A flight medic crew with the LifeFlight helicopter service was expected to transport the man between hospitals in a land ambulance, he said.

“He never lost consciousness [but] he’s in tough shape,” Rechholtz said. “He’s got multiple injuries.”

Rechholtz said at least one injury was to the man’s head but he was not sure what kind of other injuries the man suffered in the fall.

The man was lead climbing with one other climber when he fell around 3 p.m., according to the ranger. He had set two climbing anchors along the climbing route when he lost his footing, he said. The top-most anchor broke free with the force of the fall and there was too much rope out for the lower anchor to catch him, Rechholtz said.

“He fell to the ground,” he said.

Other climbers nearby assisted as park rangers and responders with MDI Search and Rescue made their way to the climbing area. The man was strapped into a litter and carried to a nearby ambulance on the Park Loop Road, most of which remains closed due to sequestration cuts to the federal budget. During the carry-out, response personnel had to pass the litter to each other hand to hand to transport it through a large boulder field, Rechholtz said.

The process of responding to the accident and then carrying the man out to the ambulance took about two hours, which can be attributed partly to the poor emergency radio reception on the east side of Champlain Mountain. Radio traffic had to be relayed through a park ranger in Gouldsboro, on the east side of Frenchman Bay, in order to share information with all the response personnel involved in the effort, he said.

Rechholtz said he did not know how much climbing experience the injured man or his climbing partner may have. He said that whenever people go rock climbing in Acadia, they should be prepared for accidents that may happen.

“He should have had a helmet on,” the ranger said. “That’s pretty straightforward.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/04/28/news/hancock/umaine-student-injured-in-rock-climbing-fall-at-acadia-national-park/ printed on August 1, 2014