Fire, medical crews rescue rock climber after 30-foot plunge

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VANTAGE — Fire and medical crews worked for hours in high heat to rescue a climber who fell 30 feet from a rock climbing wall at The Feathers near Vantage Monday. The climber was transported by Life Flight for non-life-threatening injuries after being lifted into position by rope crews, according to fire officials.

Crews from three fire districts, as well as ambulances from Protection One and a Life Flight helicopter, scrambled Monday afternoon to The Feathers, a series of sheer basalt columns popular with rock climbers that stick out of the earth like a crest of stony feathers, for a report of a climber that had taken a serious fall.

The climber was reportedly scaling the Tomato Wall, a specific section of The Feathers, when their rope snapped or otherwise failed and they dropped 30 feet to the ground below — a dangerous distance, said incident commander Michele Talley, a firefighter with Grant County Fire District No. 3. Rope crews from Fire Districts No. 3 and No. 10 worked together to lift the climber back onto the mesa above, where they were transported to the hospital by Life Flight.

Though the climber’s injuries were considered non-life threatening, Life Flight is called out as a rule to serious injuries near The Feathers and other remote areas, Talley said, due to the difficulty crews would have in carrying the patient by hand to the nearest ambulance.

The fall was believed to have been caused by worn or old equipment, said Talley, who recommended that climbers check their gear — and potentially get health insurance that covers the sizable cost of air extraction — before climbing The Feathers.

Emry Dinman can be reached via email at edinman@columbiabasinherald.com.

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