Tourist comes to aid of rock climber who falls 50 feet in Boulder Canyon

BOULDER, Colo. — An experienced climber was rescued after falling 50 feet in Boulder Canyon on Sunday, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said.

Officials were dispatched to the 33200 block of Boulder Canyon in the Tornnere Tower climbing area where a man had fallen after climbing with friends.

(Photo: Boulder County Sheriff’s Office)

The 30-year-old from Boulder County had all the proper gear and equipment with him, the sheriff’s office said.

“He was about ready to climb and supposedly reached down to grab something, and slipped and fell,” sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Caton said.

According to deputies, the man fell down a near vertical cliff, then tumbled down a steep rock face before falling into a tree.

“Luckily, there was a little trail about 2 feet wide that caught him,” a witness said.

The area, halfway between Boulder and Nederland, does not have cell signal. The man’s climbing partners began shouting for help.

“We were kind of just driving through and somebody yelled 911,” Bailey Parton said.

Parton arrived in Colorado on Saturday for a vacation. She ended up near Boulder Falls purely on accident.

“We were supposed to be going to Red Rocks Amphitheatre and ended up here somehow,” she said. “We’re from North Carolina, not even from here. We don’t know where we are.”

Yet, somehow, it was exactly where she was supposed to be.

Parton is a medical assistant and an EMT-B in North Carolina. She even spent a few months at Buncombe County Rescue Squad, sometimes performing rescues in the Appalachian Mountains.

“I’m a little familiar with the terrain but not quite like this,” she said.

Parton and the other climbers were able to rig a high-ropes system. She borrowed a harness from another climber and pulled herself across Boulder Creek while dangling about 10 feet above the water.

“I’m always prepared for adventure,” she said, “Not quite that kind of adventure.”

She had to climb another 100 to 200 feet to reach the climber. Once by his side, she was able to assess his physical condition and begin first aid.

“When a fall like this happens, you have to hold c-spine in order to protect the rest of the body from any damage,” Parton said.

In case of spinal damage, Parton held the man’s head and upper body for an hour until Rocky Mountain Rescue and Boulder Fire Rescue arrived.

“I’m tired. My arms hurt,” Parton said. “It was really tough but it’s good. That’s what we train for.”

According to the sheriff’s office, the climber suffered minor injuries to his shoulder. He was in pain, but alert and able to answer questions.

Rescue teams performed a technical rescue to get the man safely down the mountain and back across the creek. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.

“They’re a specialty unit that does this kind of rescue. They have all the ropes and all the equipment to go across the river and bring them back safely,” Caton said.

While it took a whole team of dedicated rescuers to rescue the climber, it was one tourist from North Carolina who made all the difference. She took a wrong turn to exactly the right place.

“It happened for a reason. We got lost for a reason. I’m glad we were here,” Parton said. “It was just right place, right time.”