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German hiker rescued from Devil’s Path

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    Courtesy of Colleen Harris First responders rescuing a hiker who was injured near Notch Lake.
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    Courtesy of Colleen Harris The Twin Cloves Technical Rescue Team, and other first responders, were able to find and rescue an injured hiker Saturday night near Tannersville.
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    Courtesy of Colleen Harris Equipment used in Saturday night’s rescue.
February 4, 2019 05:04 pm

TANNERSVILLE — First responders rescued an injured hiker late Saturday night after more than eight hours of navigating steep and icy terrain.

Multiple agencies assisted in lifting a 36-year-old man from Germany to safety after he fell from Devil’s Path.

Police have not released the man’s name at this time.

The hiker fractured his lower leg, State Forest Ranger Rob Dawson said and was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital. Updates on the man’s condition were unavailable at press time. State police Senior Investigator Bill Fitzmaurice and PIO Officer Steven Nevel did not return multiple calls for comment.

“The call came in at 5:30 p.m. and the patient was out around 1:45 a.m.” Dawson said.

The man had been hiking with his mother and his wife, who called 911 after the accident, Dawson said.

Rescue teams retrieved the man from Devil’s Path, a half mile from the trailhead on Route 214, Dawson said.

“He was using downhill skis and hit a rock, which caused his leg injury,” Dawson said.

The group had been hiking Becker Hollow Trail which leads to the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower, Dawson said.

“They came down Devil’s Path, the husband on skis,” Dawson said, adding that the man took the mountaineering skis off and put them back on at intervals.

“On the way down he got further ahead. When they caught up, they went to get help,” Dawson said.

Rope rescues take a certain degree of finesse, Dawson said.

“These rescues in the back country are always time-consuming when the patient isn’t mobile,” Dawson said.

The team’s tasks are broken down into patient care and retrieval.

“We hypowrapped him to keep him warm,” Dawson said. “Then we placed him into a sked to secure him and attached ropes for a belay.”

A sked stretcher is a basic tool for rescues on mountainous terrain. A belay is a running rope around a cleat, rock, pin or other object to secure it.

Rescuers were a half-mile from the road, but they had to lift the man another 500 feet before they reached the road, Dawson said.

“These rescues take time,” he said. “We don’t want to further injure the patient or injure any rescuers.”

The belay stations have to be continually reset because the team has a short 200 feet of rope to work with, Dawson said.

“Some rescues can be done with seven to eight people,” he said. “Ones like this need 16 to 20. We had 10 people bring him out, but that doesn’t include the people who bring in gear.”

In addition to state forest rangers, state police, the Twin Cloves Rope Rescue Team, the Ulster County fire coordinator, Palenville Fire Department, Tannersville Rescue Squad, Centerville Fire Company, Hunter Ambulance and Hunter police responded to the scene.

The Twin Cloves Rescue Team consists of members of five local departments that specialize in rope rescue. Member departments include fire companies from Hunter, Tannersville, Haines Falls and Palenville in Greene County, and Cedar Grove in Ulster County.