The Michigan Ice fest had another awesome year and the turnout was amazing! Ice climbing in the U.P. has really grown just like it has around the rest or the U.S. This of course means folk trying things that maybe push their abilities a little over the edge and they can wind up in some trouble. Here is the incident report I put together for ANAC:
Rescue Report February 17, 2017
The call from the 911 center to Bill Thompson happened about 6:45 PM. The call came through that there was a climber that had taken a fall on Strawberry Daze and had possible leg or pelvic fracture. Bill Scrambled to find a few athletes and guides to help with the situation. After raiding the Petzl booth of various tools for the rescue the four headed off to the trail head. At the trail head the Sherriff and Park Ranger were asked to describe the situation and stated that they really were not sure due to the inability to access the patient. It was stated that the Coast Guard had made an attempt but was unable to get to the patient as well.
The 4 rescuers were taken in via a tracked UTV for four miles and then transferred to Snowmobiles for another half mile. From there the top of the site was another third of a mile. Karsten set up a quick anchor and rappelled in 160’ to get an idea of the patient status. There were three climbers there all standing behind the ice pillar. The injured climber was complaining of back and butt pain. She stated she fell when transitioning from her ascenders back to a rappel. She was doing this because she had decided it would be easier to climb out than ascend out.
Sam came down next and started getting a screw anchor ready to take the injured patient to down to the shore. He noticed the anchor that was in place was in sunbaked ice and decided to make a more substantial anchor on the other side of the pillar with a directional around it. Sam did a quick refresher for the to other climbers on ascending and we used the gear taken from Petzl to outfit them properly.
Jeff had rappelled half way down the fixed line and set an intermediate anchor to redirect the lower portion away from some hanging daggers and dripping water and would remain there to help with communication and transferring ropes at that station. Carlos would remain at the top and belay a dynamic line strait through to the top that would keep everyone safe.
Karsten rappelled down to check out the shore before taking the patient. He found a 15 meter 45 degree slope to a 12 meter vertical wet dagger with a ledge at the water. Sam and Karsten decided a belayed, tandem rappel would be appropriate for extracting the patient and after getting her to the ledge and secured the ropes would have to be pulled back up until the helicopter had left.
They proceeded to do this, and the Coast Guard came in and made a few passes to burn fuel and then put a swimmer in the water. The patient was lifted into the aircraft via a basket.
Once the Coast Guard left Sam had to rappel the 45 degree slope to throw the ropes back to Karsten. Karsten proceeded to ascend the ropes while Sam gave him a belay.
Once back to the base of the climb proper Karsten continued on up first as he was very wet from the choppers rotor wash on the lake. All rescuers were back up on flat ground around 3:00 a.m. and back at the trail head around 3:45 a.m.
Many thanks to the local authorities for their support during this mission!