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Ice climber in critical condition after mountain rescue (update)

December 17, 2012
By MIKE LYNCH - Outdoors Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

A 41-year-old ice climber from Syracuse is alive after spending Saturday night on the side of Nippletop Mountain in the town of Keene, where he had fallen 150 to 200 feet down a slide.

Calum Stewart was in critical condition at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt., as of early this afternoon.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation reported that it was alerted to Stewart's situation at 8 p.m. Saturday by members of his climbing party. The DEC initially responded by sending forest ranger Lt. Julie Harjung, six other forest rangers and Gary Nye of Backcountry Rescue, a program connected with Adirondack Health; Nye is also a physician's assistant at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.

The crew was able to reach Stewart on the remote Essex County slide at 3:40 a.m. Sunday. Because of the wintery conditions, the rescuers had to rope themselves in while climbing.

Using high-angle rope rescue techniques, rescuers lowered Stewart to the bottom of the slide Sunday morning. They then carried him out 3.5 miles from the bottom of the slide to a road on AuSable Club property in St. Huberts.

The rescuers tried to use a state police helicopter to hoist Stewart out but were unable to because of low cloud cover.

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All told, the rescue included 15 forest rangers, one conservation officer, members of the Keene Valley Volunteer Fire Department and members of SARNAK (Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks). The rescue was completed by 8 p.m.

Keene Valley rescue volunteers transported Stewart to Elizabethtown Community Hospital for treatment of his injuries. From there he was transferred to Fletcher Allen.


Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.



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