FALL ON ROCK
New Hampshire, Cathedral Ledge, Recompense
On June 18, Mark Gallagher (48) was climbing Recompense when he fell, hit a ledge, and suffered a compound fracture of his lower left leg. Gallagher said he had climbed Recompense several times before and he knew that he was heading into the most difficult moves on the climb. Following the fall, he was hanging from a rope 120 feet below the top of the cliff and 250 feet above the ground, just a couple feet away from his partner. “He lowered me down to him, pulled me over, and anchored me back into the belay.”
Gallagher’s partner pulled their cell phone. The call came into the Conway police dispatch center at 1:46 p.m., but rescuers were already on their way. Members of Mountain Rescue Service were nearby when Gallagher fell. They knew something was wrong even before they heard Gallagher yell.
Bayard Russell and Sam Bendroth, who have been on expeditions from Alaska to Patagonia, hopped into a car with two other climbers,
Freddie Wilkinson, another MRS member and a professional climber, and Mark Richey, former American Alpine Club president, and drove to the top of the cliff to begin a rescue. Gallagher couldn’t have hoped for a better team.
“They were down to me in no time,” Gallagher said. They brought a makeshift splint with them and stabilized his leg. They were able to apply direct pressure and stop the bleeding. “Then it was just kind of hurry up and wait.”
MRS team leader Joe Lentini and US Forest Service ranger Jeff Lane went down with the litter to help load and raise Gallagher. Lentini described it as “textbook smooth,” which was important because any movement hurt Gallagher. When the litter crested the top of the cliff an ambulance was waiting. Rescuers carried the litter to the road and Gallagher was rushed to Memorial Hospital.
“It’s nice to have world-class climbers in our rescue community,” said Sgt. Brian Abrams, of the state Fish and Game Department. (Source: Edited from an article in the Conway Daily Sun by Erik Eisele)