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Climbers stranded on Mt. Yamnuska in Kananaskis rescued by helicopter 0

By Bill Kaufmann, Calgary Sun

Photo of a pair of stranded climbers on Mt. Yamnuska in Kananaskis, who had to be rescued after a boulder struck one in the leg, fracturing it. Photo courtesy Kananaskis Public Safety

Photo of a pair of stranded climbers on Mt. Yamnuska in Kananaskis, who had to be rescued after a boulder struck one in the leg, fracturing it. Photo courtesy Kananaskis Public Safety

After being struck by a boulder halfway up a sheer rock face west of Calgary, a city man was brought down in a dramatic helicopter rescue.

On Friday, two climbers scaling the popular Mt. Yamnuska about 80 km west of Calgary were halted when a beer fridge-sized rock tumbled down on them from above, fracturing one of the men’s right leg.

They managed to call for help on a cell phone while perched 120 metres above the ground along a feature of the mountain dubbed Missionary’s Crack, said Mike Koppang, spokesman for Kananaskis Country Public Safety Section.

“They were in a good position but there was a broken leg and he wasn’t able to come down,” said Koppang, adding the uninjured climber rapelled down when a crew of six arrived.

A chopper from Alpine Helicopters in Canmore was summoned, and helped rescuers secure a ledge 5 metres below the climber believed to be in his late 40s.

“They were able to climb up to his position and put him in a splint,” said Koppang, who praised the steady hands of chopper pilot Todd Cooper.

Instead of operating from the mountain’s crest, Cooper, he said, skillfully manoeuvred from alongside the rock face.

Once treated, the climber was lowered to the ledge below where he was prepared to be slung down the rock face by helicopter.

At the mountain’s base, he was met by EMS and transported to Foothills hospital in Calgary.

The rescue took about 2-1/2 hours, said Koppang, who added both climbers were experienced “and understood the risks.”

“That spot does have some rock fall issues but that’s true throughout the Rockies,” he said.

“It’s lucky he wasn’t hit in the head — legs you can fix.”

The climbers, he said, did everything right.

Mt. Yamnuska has been the scene of a number of mountaineer rescues in the past few years.

bill.kaufmann@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNBillKaufmann

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