TAKING turns to keep the fire going, the British climber who was forced to spend all Sunday night trapped at the bottom of the Sa Fosca gorge, yesterday admitted that, without the fire, he and his companion from New Zealand would have faced a fight for survival.
26 -year-old Tristan Kinloch from Devon and 29-year-old New Zealander Mike Churcher are experienced and accomplished climbers and absailers and were only on a reconnaissance trip on Saturday when they got trapped in the sa Fosca gorge in Escorca. “We have been on the island three months and this was our third trip up to the area, we're familiar with the terrain. “We were planning a climb down into the main gorge in the area and were scouting the canyon to decide exactly what equipment we would need for the expedition,” Kinloch told the Bulletin yesterday. “Walking down into sa Fosca the conditions looked good and there was little water so we decided to absail down some 15 metres at the start of the gorge to take a closer look. “But, no sooner had we got round the first bend, we came across a deep pool of water and could not find a safe route to climb out, the rock was too sheer, so we decided to continue dropping down into the gorge to find a way out. “We got down in to the gorge only to find it full of water so we decided to take our clothes off and stash them in our waterproof bags to the keep them dry and continue in our shorts. “But, as the light started to fade, and we discovered that neither the mobile phones nor GPS system we carried operated in the gorge, we could not find a way out. “We were getting cold and tired but we did try a few climbs but that tired us even more. “We had one rope so while one climbed, the other waited, and got even colder,” Kinlock explained. “Time was starting to get on and we made one last attempt at a climb up however, once we got up to the ledge, it was impassable and too dangerous to continue, so we were forced to drop back down. “But, that is when it started to go wrong. “I was getting cold, showing signs of hypothermia and starting to make mistakes. “I was losing a bit of my co-ordination and starting to trip. “We had used a tree on the rock face as a secure point for our rope but, once back down, we could not work the rope free and were faced with a serious decision. “We cut the rope and now had two lengths of just ten to 12 metres, we were not going to climb very far with that,” Kinloch said. “Darkness was nearly upon us so we decided to find a dry spot to spend the night. “We managed to find some dryish twigs but one of the two lighters we carried broke on the first attempt. “Using a burning plastic water bottle, we managed to eventually get the small fire going after half-an-hour, but we had to fight for four hours to get the fire going properly - without it we would have faced a fight for survival. “We put up a line to dry our clothes and sat on our shoes and rucksacks to keep the cold and damp out. “We took turns during the night to keep the fire going and were finally found by a rescue party the following mid-day as we continued our scout for an exit. “We still had to climb out of the gorge with their help but we learnt some important lessons,” Kinloch, who was back at work yesterday, said.

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