Man suffers head injury in fall from Phoenicia cliff


By Jay Braman Jr.
A climber making his way up the rock cliffs along Phoenicia’s Tanbark Trail fell about 40 feet on Sunday, causing severe head injuries.

The man, whose name is being withheld by emergency service officials, is from Manhattan and is 27 years old. He was brought by helicopter to Albany Medical Center for treatment. No further details on his condition were available.

The Tanbark Trail is on the property of the Saint Francis De Sales Church and was created in 2000 as an attraction that could be accessed directly from the hamlet of Phoenicia. While it is short, it is also a very serious climb. There are steep sections with unsure footing and significant elevation.
Phoenicia Fire District Chief Gary Carr told reporters that the man was climbing with two other people. The three had been doing some recreational climbing along the Tanbark Trail in the Town of Shandaken, a hike known not only for its splendid views of the Catskills peaks but also for the awe inspiring rock cliffs that much of the trail follows.

Rescuers were called to the scene at 2:59 p.m. and were able to walk into the area where the man had fallen and were finished in two hours. Carr said they were assisted by the Big Indian and Olive fire departments, as well as Shandaken Ambulance and Shandaken Town Police.

Rich Muellerleile, captain of the Shandaken Ambulance Department, briefed the town board on the accident Monday, saying that others can be avoided by following a few simple guidelines.
“Stay on the trail and use it for what it is intended for,” he said. “Don’t use it for ice climbing, particularly in the summer.”