Balkonhöhle Rescue

Sat 02 Jul 2016



At 22:00 David and Roshni's callout went live. We scanned the hill for lights, but saw nothing. So we prepared for a rescue and departed for the entrance. We had the response bag and Mark had some extra emergency equipment in his own kit. Nat stayed on the surface, prepared to run for more help if needed. Mark and George descended the cave and established contact halfway down the entrance pitch. Mark went down through the water (it was very wet) and arrived at the bottom to see a rather cold and worried David and a VERY cold Roshni. Because of the risks of descending the pitch, Mark signalled to George that he should go back out. First action was to put extra clothes (duvet vest) on Roshni. We then set up camp. Tacklebags etc. on the floor to sit on and then the bothy to get onto. Hot soup and plenty of flapjack. Candles for extra warmth.

At 05:00 we judged it sufficiently improved that we could try to get out. That went very smoothly. Mark gave Roshni an assisted prussic and she put in as much effort as she could. We met Becka at the col whilst slowly making our way back to camp.

Some thoughts:

  1. The bothy shelter was great
  2. The extra clothes I had were very useful. On a call out, pack a few fleeces, cagoules, whatever in a dry bag and take down.
  3. The short length of SRT rope I took was very useful, not only for prussic assist but also for lifelining up the balcony climb.
  4. Communication with David up the pitch was impossible. Use a whistle! If you are in trouble and need the rescuers to come down, give the standard emergency signal (six blasts).
T/U: Mark 7 hours
George 3 hours
Nat 2 hours
Haydon 2 hours (extra reinforcement at the surface)