A Vermont man suffered serious injuries in a 60-foot fall while ice climbing Thursday.
Vermont State Police said 39-year-old Steve Charest, of Jericho, was climbing in the Smugglers’ Notch area of Jeffersonville Thursday when he somehow fell.
Rescue agencies said Charest first hit a bluff, then crashed through tree limbs before finally landing on the snow-covered ground.
Initially, the fall was reported to the media by Vermont State Police Thursday evening as having been a distance of approximately 40 feet, but Cambridge Rescue, Cambridge Fire, and ski patrollers at the Smugglers’ Notch Resort clarified Friday that the drop was actually 60 feet.
“It was a pretty horrific fall,” said Mike Duncan, the assistant director of the ski patrol at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.
Even though the fall happened outside the ski area’s territory, Duncan and colleagues scrambled to help.
The patrollers, who were recently recognized with a national award for excellence, reached the fallen climber, stabilizing him and pulling him on a toboggan to a waiting ambulance for formal care.
Then, a medical helicopter brought the climber to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, where he was listed in critical condition mid-afternoon Friday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
“In the medical world, they talk about the ‘golden hour,’” Duncan told necn and NBC10 Boston Friday. “Any time there’s a severe trauma, you really have an hour to get to them, stabilize them, and get them to definitive care. And we, I think, were able to get him out of there in just under an hour.”
Duncan noted the climber was wearing a helmet.
Steve Charest is an experienced mountaineer who co-owns the Burlington climbing gym Petra Cliffs, necn and NBC10 Boston has learned.
Other climbers said Charest is very knowledgeable, careful, and is an enthusiastic booster for the growing sport of ice climbing.
“I hope the best for him,” said Capt. Jesse Hanley of Cambridge Fire.
Hanley, whose department is volunteer-based, said strong cooperation between small agencies made all the difference in this complicated rescue.
“It’s really helpful and nice for all the local departments to come together the way they do,” Hanley added.
Vermont State Police said late Thursday that an investigation into the fall is still active.