Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The first Queensland climbing fatality

Newspapers in Brisbane and beyond reported the first climbing fatality in Queensland on New Year’s Eve, 1928—that of 22-year-old Lyle Vidler. He was transfixed by the possibility of climbing a new route on Mt Lindesay up what was called ‘the Great Chimney’, a huge crevice (pictured left) that split the cliff on the mountain’s eastern side. Vidler had left Brisbane alone by train on Christmas Eve, cycling to the mountain, and when no word had been heard from him three days later, a search began. As the party climbed the steep grass slopes towards the cliffline, an eerie mist hung in the air. Bert Salmon, who was among the searchers, climbed to the summit alone and finding no evidence that Vidler had reached it, knew where to look next:

Reaching the crevice at its base, I climbed about 50 ft, and then saw the body of my friend suspended in the crevice far above me. When I reached the place, I found that the body had been caught between the base of a large stinging tree and one of the walls of the rock chimney. It was held from under the armpits by vines and a number of dead branches. The haversack, torn from the body lay a few feet away. From the moment I reached him I was convinced that Mr Vidler had been killed instantly.
Just after midnight on New Year’s Day, 1929, the rescue party received permission to bury him at the base of the crevice, where he lies today.

Picture: A. A. Salmon collection.