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Northern NSW : Celebrating 40 years Rescue December2015
In the gathering dark of October 6 this year, my climbing partner and I scrambled onto the summit of Belougery Spire in the Warrumbungle National Park. On our last visit to the summit of Belougery, about 10 years previously by a different route, we had used two ropes. This meant we only needed to make one abseil on the descent. This time we only took one rope because we knew an additional abseil anchor point had been added to the descent route. This would mean two shorter abseils. We had set off from camp before sunrise to scale ‘Out and Beyond’, at more than 300 metres one of Australia’s longest rock climbs. Strange journey into night awaits at camp. Complacency had crept into our decision-making. Lack of attention to detail. Lack of regard for stock-standard routines that cause minimal inconvenience, but ensure safety. Like double- checking each other’s actions. Like all the things that hindsight screams at me every time I go back over what went wrong, any one of which would have averted a very near fatal fall. When I reached 10 or 15 metres down the cliff, I suddenly found myself free- falling backwards into the night. In the early afternoon of October 12 the Service at the Newcastle base was called to a property at Parraweena near Quirindi. Normally this would have been quicker for the Tamworth crew, but they were out on another job. It took an hour and 10 minutes to get there, but only 45 minutes to get back due to the westerly winds. A 54 year old man had been ejected from his motorcycle and was suffering head and neck injuries. He was treated on scene and flown to John Hunter Hospital. Crewman Brian ‘Fozzy’ Foster recognised the man as someone he had transported from a nearby area with the Tamworth air crew a few years before after a horse accident. RescueClub Up for another ride Read the full account on the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service website. After signing the visitors’ book and taking in the amazing view of the Warrumbungles from the summit, we switched on our head torches and located the fixed abseil chains that marked the top of the descent route. I abseiled first and the picture I took at the bottom shows us all smiles as my partner arrived, and we prepared for the final abseil. After that we could scramble our way down to the ridge where we had earlier left a water bottle, and then on to our camp and a hot meal, a comfy bed and a well- earned sleep. I have been climbing, caving and canyoning for more than 40 years. I have done probably well over 1000 abseils and never had a serious incident. It was late, and we were tired and thirsty. But I was a bit euphoric, and we had fallen into the trap that catches out so many mountaineers after they achieve their primary objective. Set autopilot for the comparatively easy exercise of descending down the mountain, dreaming along the way of the food, warmth, comfort and safety that ANDREW COLLINS WAS RESCUED FROM THE WARRUMBUNGLES RECENTLY. THIS IS AN EDITED VERSION OF HIS ACCOUNT. 9 Rescue Magazine CELEBRATING 40 YEARS SPECIAL EDITION
Rescue Aut 2016