Climber with shattered ankle re-lives daring 120ft Cheddar Gorge rescue

PUBLISHED: 06:56 30 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:25 30 June 2017

Simon in the hospital.

Simon in the hospital.


A 30-year-old man who was trapped 120ft up Cheddar Gorge for more than three hours after breaking his ankle in three places has spoken out about his ordeal and the ‘intense’ panic attack which resulted.

The rescue was completed by 11pm.The rescue was completed by 11pm.

Simon Carobene and climbing partner Kieran Russell did not even make it to the start of their route before Simon suffered the injury to his ankle.

The pair were walking up Cheddar Gorge at 7.30pm to a path which was overgrown with stinging nettles when Simon decided he would run through them to avoid further stings.

However, he lost his footing. His foot landed on the side of the path and Simon told the Mercury he knew immediately he had broken something.

He said: “I was then rolling down the hill into stinging nettles and they actually softened the fall.

It was a difficult climb for the emergency services.It was a difficult climb for the emergency services.

“I came to a stop and told my climbing partner I had broken my ankle and I don’t think he believed me at first.

“It didn’t seem like we would have much phone signal so my partner went down to find someone to call for help.”

Despite having a broken ankle, Simon said the shock was worse than the pain and the three hours he spent stuck 120ft up the gorge prompted a panic attack.

He added: “I didn’t lose consciousness but I did lose my vision. I think it was the shock rather than the pain.

The fire service came along to help.The fire service came along to help.

“I got really impatient and dialled 999 myself and they said an ambulance would be a while.

“But then they arrived and then realised they couldn’t come up for safety reasons. So my climbing partner brought the oxygen up to me. I had a lot of gas and air.

“I could see the ambulance people down there but I just felt so helpless.

“Then the first fire engine arrived, then another four arrived and then the Avon and Somerset Search and Rescue team. I just remember them all looking at me, deliberating what to do. I felt a bit sheepish to be honest.”

Simon was keen to heap praise upon the emergency services – and staff at Weston General Hospital, where he had an operation and stayed for five days.

He added: I wanted to share my story to say how amazing all the staff were at the hospital, and all the rescue teams.

“They had to cut the fence to get to me. They were so helpful and had to make sure they could look after my foot. The team really looked after me and I was finally rescued at about 11pm.

“For over an hour they sat on the rope and then got me onto it. I couldn’t believe all those people were there for me. The staff were amazing and did a fantastic job.

“At that time, my ankle never really hurt. It wasn’t until I got to the hospital that I felt any pain.”

Simon has since been recovering and will have his cast off soon. And while the experience might have put many off the daring hobby of climbing, he is determined to return to complete the climb he was meant to take on that night.

He said: “It is so crazy this happened while I was walking. I have been climbing for years and when I started working in Cheddar with the gorge there, I started climbing it quite a lot and even running there in my lunch break.

“I can’t believe all those times I have climbed and this happened while trying to get to my route.

“It has been really hard as I can’t put any weight on it and I usually do a lot of exercise.

“But I will definitely be back climbing. I can see how it might change perceptions but I am not going to let that happen to me. I want to go back to the route we were going to do and actually do it.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Weston Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Weston Mercury