A TOURIST who tried to climb a sheer cliff on the Cork coast in his bare feet after becoming trapped by the tide came within minutes of death, the Coast Guard said last night.
The Englishman in his 20s was clinging on by his fingertips about halfway up the cliff-face for half an hour before he was spotted by a couple walking on the cliff-top.
The Kinsale unit of the Irish Coast Guard mounted a dramatic cliff-top rescue operation and hauled the exhausted man to safety.
He told rescuers he didn’t know how he had held on as long he did, the unit’s officer in charge, Eddie Butler, said.
“When we arrived and saw the situation, I didn’t think we’d save him. I think we got to him just in time,” Mr Butler said.
“The water was raging beneath him. If he had lost his grip and fell in, he would have been lost.”
The man had set off on a well-known walk along the base of cliffs west of Garrettstown beach in glorious weather on Saturday morning. He told rescuers he had a nap in a sheltered spot but when he awoke, he discovered the tide had come in and blocked his way back.
He decided his only option was to climb to safety in his bare feet. He was about 40 feet up when he got trapped.
A husband and wife walking on the cliff-top later spotted him and raised the alarm. The man ran to the road to await rescuers while his wife stayed speaking to the casualty. He was in such a steep and difficult area, he couldn’t raise his head to talk to her.
Valentia tasked the Old Head of Kinsale Coast Guard unit and an eight- man team responded.
Mr Butler said the couple did everything by the book and helped rescuers save vital minutes.
A cliff rescue expert abseiled down with a life-line and harness and the casualty was lifted to safety.
He suffered severe cuts to his feet, as well as multiple bruises and scratches to his hands and arms, and was treated at the scene.
He told rescuers he panicked when the tide came in and thought he would be able to climb the cliffs.
Mr Butler said the incident highlights the dangers of cliff-walking. “We would urge people to never climb up unless they can see a safe way to do so, and to never go anywhere near the edge of a cliff,” he said.
The rescue replicates an incident off the Old Head of Kinsale several years ago when two young men became trapped halfway up 300ft high cliffs after they tried to retrieve a football.
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