Tributes paid to climbing instructor who died after ‘tragic freak accident’

A climbing instructor and mountain-rescue team member has been killed in what has been described as a "tragic freak accident".

Sam Pilcher, from Cumbria, was climbing with a friend at Quayfoot Buttress in Borrowdale last week when he took a "leader fall from a climb".

He suffered "very serious injuries" and was flown by air ambulance to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, Kong Adventure Keswick confirmed that Mr Pilcher, who had recently become a member of Ambleside and Langdale Mountain Rescue Team, died from his injuries last week.

"It is with great sorrow that we share the news that one of our instructors lost his life last week," it said.

"Sam Pilcher was out climbing with a friend when he suffered a tragic freak accident at Quayfoot Buttress in Borrowdale."

The statement went on: "Sam joined our team in February 2020 and instantly brought enthusiasm, drive, and passion to his job. He was exceptionally hard working and was extremely popular with all of our staff and customers and quickly bonded with all of those he taught.

"He recently set up the Home-School group climbing sessions that were particularly well attended.

"Sam had also recently joined Ambleside/Langdale Mountain Rescue Team and was excited and looking forward to helping out on many rescues."

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team was called to Quayfoot Buttress at about 1.30pm on May 27 after Mr Pilcher's fall was witnessed by a member of the public in the car park below.

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A spokesperson said: "The team responded quickly with two vehicles heading up valley.

"Once at the crag, a small team went up to the top of the crag to perform a roped rescue, lowering a team paramedic down to the casualty.

"The team paramedic then attached the casualty to himself and our ropes for a lower off to a reception party of team members and air ambulance paramedics who assessed and did some initial treatment."

They went on: "The casualty was then stretchered down to the car park to an awaiting ambulance before being transferred to the air ambulance for onward transfer to hospital in Newcastle.

"Many thanks to the coastguard helicopter which was also called due to the nature and seriousness of the incident in case of the need for a winch evacuation."

The Facebook post from Kong Adventure said: "Sam was passionate about helping out others who were vulnerable or were having difficulties in their life.

"Recently, he paired up with another of our instructors – Steve Chadwick – to climb 18 of the oldest routes in the Lake District in the footwear that was available at the time – 'Old Routes in Old Boots'.

"Sam wanted to raise awareness and support the group DeWolf Bushcraft, which offers sanctuary and support for emergency service workers, NHS staff, and veterans.

"Steve is going to continue this challenge as a tribute to Sam and is looking for climbing partners to hold his ropes. If anyone is interested in supporting this challenge in memory of Sam, please contact Steve at our centre.

"We would like to thank Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, his climbing partner Jamie and all of those involved in his rescue and for the superb care he received at Newcastle Hospital.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

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