A MAN who fell while abseiling at Mount Buffalo at the weekend had landed in one of the worst possible spots, according to police.
A major rescue operation that was launched on Sunday night continued yesterday, with the 24-year-old Melbourne man stuck at the bottom of Mount Buffalo Gorge for 19 hours.
Police believe a “miscommunication” between climbers had led to the man’s rope being let go.
He then plunged about 20 metres to the bottom of the gorge where he landed in water.
Sergeant Scott Dower, of the police search and rescue squad, said rescuers had reached the bottom of the gorge on Sunday and two officers stayed with the man overnight.
He was flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital about 10.40am.
“It was a challenging rescue,” Sgt Dower said.
“It was 250 metres from the top of the cliff to the bottom of the gorge.
“It’s steep terrain and working at those heights, you have to be pretty careful.”
Rescue crews had considered hauling the man up the cliff, but eventually decided to lift him out in an Ambulance Victoria helicopter.
Sgt Dower said the man was “very lucky to be alive”.
He had been forced to stay still all night, in the fear that he might have a spinal injury.
The man had been climbing with six other members of a Melbourne university-based climbing club.
Acting Sgt Scott Baldock said the man had fallen into “really rough country” with large boulders in the area.
“His injuries aren’t as bad as they could have been,” he said.
“It’s a fairly rare occurrence for this spot. There have been issues in other parts of the mountain, but not where this has occurred.
“It’s a hard location to get to.”
Sgt Dower said the man had made it clear to his rescuers that he was grateful for their assistance during his all-night ordeal.