Emergency personnel inside the cave at the Skaha Bluffs where a woman fell an estimated 60 feet on Monday. Submitted photo

B.C. climber injured at Skaha Bluffs rescued after seven hours

A woman fell approximately 60 feet into a cave at the South Okanagan provincial park near Penticton

Due to the challenging nature of the terrain, it took rescuers over seven hours to extract a Lower Mainland woman who fell 60-feet while inside a cave at the Skaha Bluffs climbing area on Monday.

The 50 year old female, who was brought to the surface at 7 p.m., is now at Kelowna General Hospital being treated for severe head and upper body injuries.

Related: Injured woman rescued from cave at Skaha Bluffs

“This was a complex event with lots of logistics and moving parts, however, everyone had their eye on the objective and the teamwork was seamless,” said Randy Brown, Penticton and District Search and Rescue manager.

Related: Zoning process is first step to creating Skaha Bluffs rec area

Up to 50 rescue personnel, from around the province, were assisting with the rescue. That includes cave rescue experts from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Interior who were flown into Penticton by the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA).

“All cave events are a challenge and complex especially when working in confined spaces as you have low visibility, unstable rock and then you add an injured subject to the mix and everything gets more complicated,” said Doug Munroe, co-ordinator for Alberta/B.C. Cave Rescue.

Penticton and District Search and Rescue were alerted around 11:36 a.m. that the woman had fallen while climbing at the popular area located just on the outskirts of the Penticton city limits, at the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park.

Brown said early reports indicated that the female subject was inside the cave when she suffered the 25-foot fall. Two other friends who were with the subject were able to climb out and call 911. While PENSAR was co-ordinating an air response local RCMP and Penticton Fire Department crews attended to the rescue area.

Related: Penticton SAR extracts Skaha Bluffs climber with head injury

“By 1 p.m. search and rescue on scene determined that the subject was about 60-feet inside the cave structure and, due to the complexity of the incident, immediately requested the assistance of the B.C./Alberta Cave Rescue Team,” said Brown.

While awaiting cave rescue experts, 20 members of the Penticton search and rescue team along with four Penticton fire/rescue service members began preparing the rescue site with ropes, stretchers and medical equipment while maintaining communication with the subject. By 3 p.m. the first of the cave rescuers had arrived, and three hours later, with over 25 personnel on scene, the slow but challenging extraction out of the cave began. Brown said the woman was brought to the surface by 7 p.m. and was transferred to a stretcher and airlifted out of the area by a search and rescue helicopter long-line team to a nearby ambulance.

The woman was taken to Penticton Regional Hospital then, due to the extent of her injuries, to the Kelowna for further treatment.

Local resources used to rescue the woman included 22 Penticton and District Search and Rescue members, several volunteer CASARA aircraft and pilots, 14 cave rescue personnel (and another dozen en-route before being stood down), four Penticton fire/rescue, local RCMP and two local helicopter companies.

“A joint effort that had a successful conclusion,” said Brown.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Kristi Patton | Editor

KristiPatton

Send Kristi Patton an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

VIDEO: Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens play to the crowd in Nelson

The charity game was a spectacle from puck drop

Province looking at steps to dissolve Jumbo resort municipality

Disincorporating municipality will likely require a legislative change, according to the province

RCMP still investigating body found between Nelson, Castlegar

Halimi’s body was found between Nelson and Castlegar in May 2018

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

UBC grad and sister killed in Iran plane crash had bright futures ahead, close friend says

Asadi-Lari siblings Mohammad Hussein and Zeynab were two of 57 Canadians aboard downed Flight PS752

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

B.C.’s oldest practising lawyer celebrates 100th birthday, shares advice

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Most Read