A Terrace woman is in hospital after falling from a 100-foot cliff in the backcountry yesterday afternoon.
The unidentified hiker was connected to a safety line with three friends at a high elevation about six kilometres northwest of the Skeena West Bridge, 30-kilometres east of the city. It is believed she slipped and fell.
Terrace Search and Rescue vice president Dave Jephson said the woman suffered two broken legs, cuts and other injuries. She is currently at Mills Memorial Hospital awaiting transfer to Vancouver.
“I just got off the phone with her brother and she’s lucky — she’s stable,” Jephson said.
SAR received the call for a helicopter evacuation from the group’s spot device — an emergency beacon — around 4 p.m. yesterday.
A SAR team located the woman roughly 300 metres down the cliff face, clinging to a small, steep ledge.
“We believe she fell about 100 feet, with impact, but we found her about 300 feet from the top of the cliff. She was still on a rope but in a very precarious position in a little crook of the rock.
Rescuers could not safely reach the woman with a basket due to limited space on the ledge and a 75 per cent slope, Jephson said.
“The decision was to have our two rescuers fly in [at the end of the long line].”
Contact was made without incident and all three were lifted to the cliff summit.
“We met up with her friends and our gear, transferred her over to a spine board, got her onto oxygen, put her inside the helicopter and flew her down to the awaiting ambulance,” Jephson said.
This is the first longline rescue by Terrace SAR since the previous helicopter partner company left the area around 2003. Great Slave Helicopters arrived five years ago and offered a new partnership to SAR, who then began a long process of equipment fundraising and training to reestablish the emergency service. A $10,000 donation from Spectra Energy, since purchased by Enbridge, helped push the process to the permitting stage, and with a memorandum of understanding through Aerial Solutions, SAR received its long-line certification in March of this year.
“The team is elated they were able to put their skills to use and save somebody,” Jephson said. “Without our partnerships, the military would have to come in with a helicopter from [CFB] Comox, and I’m afraid to think how long that could have taken.”