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On Tuesday, June 22, Wolfgang Schweiger suffered a nasty fall while sport climbing in Boulder Canyon, Colo. “Wolf” was apparently being lowered from a climb when the rope came up short and pulled through the belayer’s device. He fell approximately 25 feet, resulting in severe head injuries and a fractured pelvis that required a Flight for Life helicopter evacuation.
Wolf is well known in the outdoor industry — the tall, handsome guy with long blonde hair and big smile is hard to miss at trade shows and events. He has been the Rocky Mountain sales rep for Petzl since the days PMI was the distributor. A longtime rep for Boreal, he now handles Five Ten in the region, and he also reps for Dana Packs.
In a sentiment shared by many who know him, Gary Neptune, owner of Neptune Mountaineering, said, “He’s just a really good climber, but very low-key about it all. You couldn’t have a nicer guy or a more honest business associate.”
According to Roody Rasmussen, CEO of Petzl America: “Wolf is currently off his ventilator and his stomach tube has been removed. With the tubes removed, he appears much more calm and relaxed. For the healing process to continue, the doctors need him to lie still and not be stimulated.
Wolf continues to improve, but at the same time is experiencing some setbacks. They discovered Wolf’s left wrist is dislocated/broken and may require surgery. Apparently, Wolf has had considerable swelling throughout his body, including both wrists, and the injury wasn’t discovered until this weekend. His swelling, however, has now started to dissipate and his other injuries continue to heal well. The accumulation of fluid in his lungs has led to a mild case of pneumonia which they are treating with antibiotics.
Wolf has, at times, been responsive to voice commands, having squeezed a hand when requested, and has even opened his eyes to recognize a few people. He has even responded verbally from time to time. Wolf continues to drift in and out of responsiveness, but again, that is expected and shows positive signs of the slow comeback expected with this type of injury. Doctors assure us that he is experiencing a very positive recovery for this stage in the game.
The doctors continue to remark that he is strong and should come out of this OK, but warn that the recovery and rehabilitation process could take many months. We need to start thinking of ways to help support Wolf and his family. The transition back to a normal and full life will take lots of effort, money and support. As we know his needs in the weeks ahead, we will begin to call on all of you for your ideas and involvement.â€
Wolf’s friends are in the process of establishing a fund to help out with the rehab. SNEWSÂ® readers will recall that a fund was created for Trango’s Malcolm Daly following his heart attack last winter that enabled hot dinners to be delivered to the family each night. Now that he has recovered, Malcolm is donating the remainder of that fund to Wolfgang.
Since Wolf is still in the Intensive Care Unit, and his wife Heidi is under considerable stress, visitors and flowers are not being accepted at this time. We should have an address for get well cards and donations later this week. Check back for updates on his condition.
SNEWSÂ® View: If you are thinking what we are thinking, then you are thinking that this kind of news packs a punch as potent as a kick to the stomach. If there is any good to be found in this accident, let it be a message to us all that, no matter how experienced a climber you may be, always, always check your rope, your knots and your safety devices! This type of accident is all too common and easily preventable. A simple stopper knot at the end of the rope would have prevented it from passing through the belay device and given both the belayer and Wolf a heart-stopping alert that could be corrected instead of a near fatal fall that will leave lasting scars.