Trent Ernst, Editor
A pair of Ontario residents are back on solid ground, safe and uninjured, following a frightening ordeal at Bergeron Falls, July 3, 2014.
According to Search and Rescue Manager Sarah Waters, a group of tree planters went on a hike to the base of Bergeron Falls. While there, some of them started playing around on the scree slopes around the falls, climbing higher and higher on the crumbling rock. “They were scrambling up the cliff, and realized they had got to a point where they couldn’t get back down,” says Waters.
The two were following a pair of more experienced climbers who managed to climb the perilous rock face.
The two who got stuck were scrambling laterally along the slope to get out from under an overhanging cliff, but that positioned them above an overhanging cliff.
Unable to climb up or down, they clung to the cliff, awaiting rescue.
One of the other hikers was able to get cell phone access and called the RCMP for help at about 2:00 pm.
Waters says she asked the contact person to send a photo, just so she knew what they were dealing with. “They said Bergeron Falls, but I needed to know if they had got stuck where the ladder is earlier along the trail, or at the falls themselves.” It was the latter, the two nearly three quarters up the hundred metre cliffs. When she saw the terrain, she called in the rope rescue team from North Peace SAR.
North Peace SAR took a helicopter directly to the site, while members of the Tumbler Ridge team attended the site on foot.
The rope rescue team set up an anchor at the top, lowered in, put a harness and helmet on the first person and pulled them out, then repeated the process for the second climber.
All in all, the two climbers, one male and one female, were stuck on the slope for about five and a half hours.
Waters says that, because the slope was not vertical, the two were able to lean into the cliff, allowing them to remain there without falling for a long time. However, she says that anyone heading out climbing should have the proper gear.
More importantly, she says: “Due to the incredibly fragile nature of the rock around Bergeron Falls, it is not a climbing location, and people should not be climbing there.”
Says Sergeant Craig Learning: “This incident serves as a reminder to be appropriately prepared, and to limit activities to those within your knowledge, skills and abilities.”