LINVILLE GORGE, N.C. — National Guard members pulled a climber to safety in a dramatic rescue effort Monday at Linville Gorge.
Those rescuers are thankful they got there in time at Shortoff Mountain in Pisgah National Forest.
Chopper 9 Skyzoom caught the intense rescue from the very beginning.
A Blackhawk helicopter arrived at the scene where it hovered over the spot where a 23-year-old climber fell between 20 and 40 feet.
A National Guard crew member dropped down from the helicopter and after fighting the winds the rescuer was able to meet emergency crews already clinging to the mountainside to help.
After dangling near the side, he was planted on the steep ledge.
Crews worked to open up the backboard and secure the climber.
Then, another rescuer swung in fighting the wind and when three rescuers got the ropes in place, they prepared to lift the climber to the helicopter.
After the successful effort, two other crew members were pulled up to the chopper.
The Blackhawk helicopter flew to a nearby landing zone where it met with a medical helicopter and the hiker was taken to an Asheville hospital.
Rescuers said the mission a success.
The men on the rescue team came from different departments and different backgrounds but they all had the same goal Monday -- to reunite the man with his family in the best condition possible.
"We've been practicing for this moment for over 10 years," said David Bowman with the Charlotte Fire Department. "He was in a lot of pain so there wasn't a lot of interaction other than I was telling him what was going to happen."
Bowman and Chris Hendricks with Gaston County EMS went down to save him and they said it wasn't easy to do.
CHOPPER 9: Crews aid rock climber hanging from rock
Capt. Darrel Scoggins with the N.C. National Guard watched from overhead in the helicopter as the two hoisted the patient to safety.
Communication was fluid between ground and air to execute the successful mission.
"You definitely have a sense of pride once you get done with it," Scoggins said. "It was probably one of the smoothest missions we've had."
Those men train once every three months for situations like this one.
They can't always predict how it's going to turn out but they say Monday's outcome couldn't have been any better.
They are a part of the North Carolina Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team and have more than 60 successful rescues.
North Carolina is one of four states to have a program like HART.
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