This Safety Plan proposes to address the safe management and logistical concerns associated with an emergency response at Devil’s Glen. The OAC has inspected the site, and believes that the terrain can be safely managed to a high standard, using established or slightly modified access points, and a coordinated, detailed site-specific Emergency Response Plan made available to site users, the OAC, Park Management, and local emergency (Fire/EMS) crews.
Signage at four locations at the cliff bottom could orient climbers to the site.
- ‘Main Gully’ access point, at the cliff bottom: main access point, location of proposed litter (not currently present), emergency supplies, site map, and abbreviated Emergency Response Plan.
- ‘Western Access’ route: lower angle walk-out, requires some short pitches for litter carry, serves as primary extraction point for climbs west of ‘Nutcracker.’
- ‘Eastern Access’ route: walkable trail, primary extraction point for climbs east of ‘Nutcracker,’ requires securing or belay of litter from top.
- ‘Nutcracker’: half-way marker. Dividing line for east/west extraction routes. Is a well-known route to climbers.
Multiple Extraction Routes (Eastern and Western)
To help expedite the extraction of injured persons, the OAC proposes multiple extraction routes: an eastern and a western route. Rescuers will choose the most appropriate route for a particular incident. Shorter routes reduce transport time and enable the swift and safe transfer of injured persons to the upper part of the cliff and then onward to emergency crews. The OAC has assessed the sites and proposed, in our opinion, the safest options available for terrestrial transport from the cliff bottom to the cliff top.
The total length of the cliff is about 750-800m long. The maximum distance along the base to either extraction site from “Nutcracker” will therefore be less than 400m.
Detailed route descriptions use the example of transporting a fully immobilized person in a litter/backboard carry situation. Less-injured persons require less complex extraction methods, including assisted partner carry or simply walking out. In less-severe cases, the routes described present the easiest and safest exit from the cliff bottom.
Western Emergency Access
Located approximately 250m from the parking lot.
(Lat/Long 44° 21′ 11.60″N, 80° 14′ 0.40″W)
We anticipate that extractions from west of the well-known landmark route ‘Nutcracker’ (approximately same location as the current Park Boundary, 44°21’15.4”N, 80°13’35.4”W) would use the Western Access, which will be less than 400m from the injury site.
The terrain at cliff bottom towards the western access is suitable terrain for hiking. It presents little-to-no impairment of transport for a litter, other than low-consequence slip and trip hazards generally associated with hiking. At the Western Access, the short (45m) sloped and stepped terrain requires safe management. This terrain is 3rd class terrain, according to the Sierra Club terrain classification—some hands required; falls would not likely be fatal, but injury is likely. The slope consists of rocks, vegetation, and close-to-medium spaced trees. A well-packed walking trail/route ascends the path of least resistance and safely manages the terrain for able bodied hikers. The access has an average slope of 35-40° with one short vertical section approximately 2m high. No new trail or route building is needed. Managing the slope appropriately will require three litter belays to secure the litter from a fall back down the slope.
The OAC recommends placing bolted anchors in two key locations, and using a large stable tree as the last belay anchor, during an extraction which requires a litter. From the top of the cliff, the litter can be hand-carried on a hiking trail to meet EMS at the parking area.
From the lower cliff, a rescue/extraction of a litter would proceed as follows:
- Injury occurs. Assessment, treatment/stabilization, notification of outside resources (EMS) if needed, and transport decision based on severity and mechanism of injury. Litter is deemed best transport option.
- Collect litter from Main Gully storage point, secure patient, hand carry to bottom of Western Access.
- Carry patient up Western Access in two belayed pitches to the Western Extraction Point. From here, the exit route is 10-15m up a 40° slope to the flat hiking trail. The litter can be belayed using a large study tree at top of cliff.
- Hand carry litter to EMS (or meeting EMS crews at top to assist with carry). The litter and patient would travel approximately another 250m on a hiking trail to ambulance.
This response requires a minimum of three persons, and is a safe and fast method of moving an injured person up a slope with minimal resources. Climbers would employ personal and provided gear along with basic rope skills to execute this extraction in a timely manner. Access route details and emergency contacts would be available on-site at the ‘Main Gully’ and litter storage area.
Eastern Emergency Access
For incidents on the eastern section of the cliff, rescue personnel hand-carry a litter up a moderate slope at the eastern end. The coordinates of the evacuation point are 44° 21′ 11.5″N, 80° 13′ 58.8″W. A large tree at the top of the slope would be suitable as an anchor for belaying.
Detailed Emergency Response Plan Recommendation
The OAC proposes implementing this initial Safety Plan alongside a detailed, site-specific Emergency Response Plan to be completed at a later date. The detailed ERP would include:
GPS locations of all major locations for the cliff (road access, trail access, main parking, West/East Extraction Points, Park Boundary/Nutcracker landmark);
Maps for the area, indicating the above mentioned locations, and significant landmarks;
Detailed, documented hazard assessment for area in all seasons that climbing use would take place;
Initial and continued liaison with local emergency crews to determine response times, emergency facilities/staff, training level and staff numbers (Fire/EMS), vehicle capabilities;
Summarized rescue responses for all foreseeable injuries at site, and detailed extraction routes and planning for each injury;
Contact information for local Fire/EMS and Park Authorities, as well as OAC delegates for the area.
Copies of the detailed ERP would be stored with the OAC, Park Managers and the local Fire/EMS crews, and revised as needed.
An abbreviated ERP will stay on site at the litter location. It will be updated regularly and maintained by the OAC delegate.
Training and Continued Education
The OAC is keen to make available non-certification training in this specific emergency response plan, location and details, in the interests of climber and public safety. The OAC seeks to ensure consistent, safe emergency response for site users and to familiarize users with emergency response protocols for this site. The OAC will make available any relevant emergency response information for this site to the climbing community, land managers, and the public on its website and at public outreach events, or upon request. The OAC will revisit and revise, as needed, any part or portion of the ERP and Safety Plan on an ongoing basis.