Crash or collision
A ROCK CLIMBER'S GREATEST FEAR: TWO LIVES SAVED THANKS TO THEIR RESQLINK
Posted on July 28, 2023 by Leo
We headed out from the refuge at dawn on Saturday 8th of July for a 3 hour walk with crampons to the start of the Arête West of Pointe des Aigles (3336m) in the French Alps. We switched to rock climbing shoes at around 9am.
At 10am, after a few pitches of rock climbing, I was leading about 20 meters above my friend belaying me.
Suddenly, a massive rock the size of a washing machine detached under my foot, grabbed the rope with it, and catapulted me violently backward. As I was falling, in a deafening noise of rock splitting in pieces, I was hit all over my body and thought that it was probably all over for me. Thinking also that my friend would most likely be crushed by the rocks falling down.
Luckily, the rope got stuck and I came to rest about 10 meters below. As the rope stopped my fall, I had a clear view of my friend and the rocks aiming towards him. Two massive pieces of rocks (about 40cm wide) flew on each side of his helmet by a few inches and one tore off his camera. Thankfully, he only got hit by other smaller rocks and escaped with a minor head injury.
I was in total shock and couldn’t breathe. Pain all over my body but mostly from my left ankle.
After some time, I climbed up to a safer spot and built an anchor with a couple of Camalots to belay my friend. We went through all possible options with their associated risks and decided to try climbing up to a more comfortable spot about 30m above.
The rope was seriously damaged to the core, along with both our helmets, and my ankle got worse. Abseiling from there wasn’t an option anymore.
There was no cell phone coverage and my ACR Resqlink View PLB that I carried religiously during all my adventures was going to prove vital. I activated the signal at 11:48am, and without me knowing, the SAR personnel called my emergency contact 6 minutes later.
About 2 hours later, the time needed for the rescue to coordinate and dispatch, as we were talking about a strategy to survive the night in the cold and windy conditions, the rescue helicopter arrived.
We had tears of joy and relief.
A quick and impressive heli-hoisting rescue and we were on our way to the hospital, safe and sound. Just a fractured ankle, lots of bruises, cuts, and damaged gear.
Words of wisdom
I say what I always knew to be wise, always carry an emergency locator beacon and a first aid kit when you go into the wild, a simple broken ankle can kill you over there.
Thank you note
I would like to thank the ACR crew for designing a life saving tool that proved extremely reliable and sturdy (it got banged quite a bit during the fall). I thank also all the SAR personnel that cared for us and risked their life saving ours.
Pointe des Aigles, 38520 Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans, France
ResQLink™ ViewGo to product details
Small but resilient, the ResQLink View has been professionally engineered and tested to ensure it can withstand even the harshest elements. This buoyant Personal Locator Beacon requires no subscription for use and includes a digital display providing live status and GPS coordinates. Whether on land, at sea, or in the air, trust that the ResQLink’s satellite precision and military durability, put rescue in the palm of your hands.**Based on test report from an accredited laboratory WARNING: PROP 65