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Trapped rock climbers rescued in south of France

The rescue operation lasted more than four hours

The gendarmes had to be dropped at the top and abseiled down Pic: (PGHM 06/Facebook)

Specialised emergency services were called on to rescue two climbers stuck on a cliff near Aiglun on Monday (November 27).

Despite being experienced, the climbers, both in their thirties, found themselves trapped over 200 metres above the ground in a climbing route called "Shining", reputed to be one of the more difficult in the Alpes-Maritimes. 

One of the two climbers was injured, unable to move further after his hand was caught by a teardrop shaped ‘snap’ hook.

Alerted in the early afternoon, four gendarmes from the region’s specialised unit of the (high mountain) Peloton de gendarmerie de haute montagne des Alpes Maritimes (PGHM 06) were helicoptered to the site. 

Although used to working in dangerous environments, they said that this was “the most technical rescue in a long time,” commander of the PGHM 06 Lieutenant Jérôme Bourrières stated in a press release.

The operation was made difficult by an eight-metre overhang of rock. Another team was also on the ground and the rescue lasted more than four hours.

Rescued from above

The two men were around two-thirds of the way up the cliff and it was not possible for the helicopter to pick them up directly. 

Instead, the gendarmes had to be dropped at the top and abseil down, before they managed to throw a rope to the two men. 

“We were dropped at the top of the wall, in order to abseil to the lip of the overhang,” the PGGM 06 posted to social media platform Instagram. “From this point we managed to secure the men and extract them from the slope.”

“The team managed to hoist the victims (to safety) just before sunset.”

The operation ended shortly before 17:00. The injured climber was taken to hospital in Grasse. 

Mr Bourrières added that the climbers were very well equipped and able to tackle this type of route.

"These experienced climbers did not commit negligence. Falling is part of such an activity", he said.

Read also 

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