On August 7, a 27-year old climber—whose name has not been release—was climbing in the Weybridge, Vt. caves without a rope and fell 15 feet to the bottom. The fall reportedly caused him to lose feeling in his lower extremities and head trauma. Later reports indicated he had only broken his ankle and is currently in stable condition at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt..
Once Weybridge Fire Chief Bill Sinks arrived at the scene he realized that his crew was not capable of this type of rescue, so the Middlebury Technical Rescue and the Vermont Cave Rescue Team were called in to recover the man from the cave. The rescue took 14 hours, of which most was spent chiseling out a path. We don’t know how much damage was caused during the rescue but if you have ever been in the caves you know how tight they are in spots. Getting a litter and rescue equipment in would have required a significant amount of work and damage.
The Weybridge Cave Natural Area is the fifth largest underground network of caves in Vermont. To explore the cave properly, climbing equipment is required. Steve Charest, the owner of Petra Cliffs describes the interior of the cave as “once you go into the first passage there is probably a 50 to 60-foot drop to the first hallway. And then, a 60 to 70-foot rappel into the main cavern”. Charest has been climbing at Weybridge Cave for years and says it is a challenging cave that should always be climbed with ropes.