Two Boston-area rock climbers injured in fall in Maine national park

Two rock climbers from the Boston area were injured when one of the climbers and a guide fell more than 20 feet off a cliff, landing on the other climber, in Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, Maine, officials said.

After the fall on Sunday, the injured climbers waited for more than three hours at the base of the seaside cliff as rescuers worked to remove them without causing further injuries. Bar Harbor Fire Chief Matt Bartlett said the injuries appeared to be serious but not life-threatening.

The climbers, a male and female, were climbing Otter Cliff, a popular climbing spot in the national park, Sunday morning with the help of a guide from Acadia Mountain Guides, a climbing school. The male climber and the guide were on the rock face when the climbing rope all three were tethered to broke after rubbing against a rock ledge, according to Jon Tierney, owner of the climbing school.

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“Basically, they had a rope cut above the point where the three people were secured to the rope,” said Tierney, who said he’s climbed Otter Cliff about 100 times a year for the last 20 years.

The male climber and the guide fell off the side of the cliff, a drop of about 22 feet, Tierney said. The female climber was at the base of the cliff, waiting for instruction from the guide, he said.

“She was on the ground below. She was the one having difficulty. The guide went down to coach her through a difficult move and when the guide fell, it ended up pulling the other climber off with him,” he said.

The male climber suffered a broken arm and a concussion, while the female sustained a hip injury, according to the Coast Guard, which assisted in the rescue. The guide fell onto the female, Tierney said, but he was not injured beyond “scrapes and bruises,” he said.

Rescuing the climbers took three to four hours, Tierney said, and involved lowering down a basket for each patient to be lifted out in.

“The biggest challenge for the [rescuers] was that they had two patients, which is unusual, so they had to extricate two people,” Tierney said. “It just takes a little while to get the resources there and to do it in a way that protects the injured climbers.”

Both climbers were transported to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, according to Bartlett.

Bartlett said his department typically conducts or assists in 20 to 30 rescues at Acadia National Park each summer.

“This type of situation is nothing that can be rushed into because of the technical aspect of it,” he said. “None of it is ever routine, but I think things went very well.”

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