A man, who is in his fifties and an experienced sea cliff climber, fell while collecting eggs at Stapi in Aðalvík in the remote Hornstrandir region in the West Fjords yesterday afternoon when his rope snapped. He fractured his pelvis and was taken by Coast Guard helicopter to hospital in Reykjavík.
Collecting eggs in a bird cliff. Archive photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“One can easily be lowered down with a single rope but he decided to be safe and use a double rope. He was quite far down, 12-15 meters, when the rope tore and he fell in freefall about six to eight meters and landed between two rocks on a ledge,” described his friend, Viðar Konráðsson from Ísafjörður, to Morgunblaðið.
From the ledge on which the climber landed, there is a 30 to 40 meter drop to a rocky beach.
“Probably the rope had been sun-baked—worn by the sun,” Viðar speculated. “He was wearing a belt with around 150 eggs around his waist like a lifebuoy; it must have taken some of the fall.”
The man had been lowered down with another experienced sea cliff climber while Viðar and a fourth man waited on the edge.
“One cannot describe in words what it is like to see your friend fall in Stapi. He didn’t move at first, probably for a few seconds. It took a long time for those seconds to pass,” said Viðar, who suffered injuries himself during egg collecting in the cliff Hornbjarg nine years ago.
Viðar called for help and shortly afterwards a group of people who were traveling on a boat nearby, among them an emergency technician, arrived at the scene and tended to the injured climber.
Tens of search and rescue workers took the man onboard an emergency vessel to which the Coast Guard helicopter picked him up.
The man underwent surgery at the national hospital Landspítali in Reykjavík yesterday evening and is now in the ICU, visir.is reports.