FALL OR SLIP ON ROCK, EXCEEDING ABILITIES North Carolina, Pilot Mountain State Park
On September 5, Paul Bridges (PB) and Alex Rodriguez (AR) were rappelling in Pilot Mountain State Park, which is located approximately 2 5 miles north of Winston Salem. After both had rappelled several times during the morning, they decided to do a little “climbing.” Leaving their rappelling equipment behind, they moved down the trail to the base of the climbing area and began to free-solo an unknown route. As AR was attempting to move up onto a ledge, he lost his grip and fell a few feet to a ledge below injuring his ankles. After hitting this ledge, he tumbled down the rockface to the trail below, receiving additional injuries. PB believes AR fell approximately 12 to 15 feet.
Pilot Knob Fire Department, Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad, Surry County EMS and the Interagency High Angle Rescue Team all responded. AR was placed in a Stokes basket and hauled up the main descent gully. He was carried out and transported to the hospital, where his injuries were evaluated. He sustained two broken ankles, a fractured right tibia and fibula, broken and dislocated fingers and tom tendons on his left hand. He also cracked ribs and several stitches were required to close a head wound! As of September 10, AR has undergone several surgeries, and still awaiting more.
Some of the terrain at Pilot Mountain looks relatively easy and for some presents the path of least resistance to the top of the climbing area. Both climbers had the equipment to set up a top-roped climb. Whether or not they had the knowledge is another story. (Source: Keith D. Martin, Pilot Mountain State Park Ranger and Aram Attarian)