Hey guys, this is my first trip report and I know it is just about Jackson, but I feel like it is important. My mind is still scattered after yesterday's events, but I thought a brief overview would be beneficial to everyone, and possibly help me organize all my thoughts. If all you read is this first paragraph, please remember to be super careful crossing the East Falls after a rain shower and to know when to step back and let EMTs do their jobs. I couldn't not say anything about what happened in case someone else got hurt the same way. I want everyone to have a fun, safe time.
Sunday was our second day of insanely fun climbing (Spiders from Mars 5.10b was by far my favorite from the day before!) and it started out fantastic. My goal of doing the 5.10 at Snake's Roof had been met and after slabbing it up on Five Nine we had decided to head over to Sleef Peak. We quickly set up a top-rope for the newbies in our group on Blue Spark and Through the Smoke, which were both fantastic climbs for everyone. Unfortunately, only one of us got to do the 10a, Rattler, before it started to down pore. The rocks (and us) were soaked and very slick so we decided to clean and call it a day. 4 out of the 7 people in our group were very new climbers and they were exhausted but definitely addicted. We had meet tons of people from a few different states and had a great time. It felt like the perfect end to a great weekend.
As the last person was going up to clean I heard people on the dog walk yelling for help saying a girl had fallen off a cliff. A group of approx. 10 people from Effingham had come to Jackson to hike around for the day and enjoy the views. I yelled back for them to dial 911 immediately and that we would go and find her. 4 of us ran down to the East Falls with our packs and found her 25-30 feet below the ledge with a severe compound fracture of the ankle and moderate blood loss. She had some cuts and bumps on her head but was otherwise okay except for the exposed bone. I couldn't believe how lucky she was... After a quick assessment and getting to know one another we elevated her leg because she didn't want anyone to touch her foot. I didn't have any sterile telfa pads big enough for her wound and didn't want to put a dirty t-shirt on it so it worked out best to not wrap it. She was just dripping a couple drops every once in a while by then so we focused on distracting her and keeping her talking since she was a bit shocked. It wasn't long before we were told the EMTs were there and getting set up. The next 5 minutes will forever be burned into my memory... I wish I would have looked away.
I heard the sound of running up above and then screams. The situation went from bad to horrendous. I knew instantly that someone else had slipped on the East Falls. Looking up in horror I saw one of the EMTs desperately trying to stay on the ledge and then slip. He landed on his back only 3 feet from us and hysteria broke loose. Luckily 2 guys from Indiana were there to keep the EMT from falling down the rest of the way past us and hurting himself more. By then his and her screams had gotten people running up from everywhere and people looking over the ledge at the scene. Guys were yelling and cussing at each other. Adding 20 gun-ho men to the mix was craziness and the EMT that made it down the gully safely couldn't control the situation very well. I was speechless and frankly didn't want to hear or see the EMT that was hurt... the blank stare after he hit will give me nightmares... I held the girls hand and told her to keep looking at me. I couldn't lose it in front of her.
Everyone was yelling and the situation was out of control. Thankfully another EMT arrived and took command. He ordered the injured EMT to be taken out first since his life was in danger and the female victim was stable physically. A climber I had seen on Morning Beers earlier had rigged an anchor above the falls in case they wanted to raise the victims (and I had everything necessary for a pulley system down below - thank you Andy P.), but they chose to carry the victims out the longer but safer way (which seemed very wise and they had a lot of willing dudes to help carry). After I helped strap her to the backboard and push her up the rocks to the next group of people, I sat and looked at my friend Jim in disbelief. Both speechless, we cleaned up the site and ourselves as best we could. All I wanted to do was get ourselves safely back to camp.... and drink a couple beers.
If you know me at all, my first priority is to be safe. I try really hard to never be in a situation like I experienced yesterday, but I'm glad I was armed with a little knowledge so I didn't lose my head. I found flaws in my first aid kit and will rectify them immediately - for example: always have latex gloves. I forget about the other people who share the land with us that might need help sometime. This was a terrifying experience for me, but I won't skimp on any first aid supplies or knowledge from here on out - I hope no one else will either. Climb hard, but climb safe everyone.
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