Man rescued after falling 40 feet at Pilot Mountain identified, released from hospital

SURRY COUNTY, N.C. -- The father of a 21-year-old who was rescued after falling 40 feet at Pilot Mountain Wednesday is providing some insight into what happened before and after his son’s accident.

The 21-year-old has been identified as Dylan Pappas, of Florida.

Dylan’s father, Gary Pappas, tells FOX8 that Dylan is an experienced climber, who graduated from the University of Florida this past weekend.

“He’s putting a lot of time into safety, and training and he knows that he’s taking risks,” Gary said, of Dylan.

Dylan and two friends planned a trip around the country following his graduation. They made plans to meet with a rock climbing guide on Thursday. However, the friends decided to visit Pilot Mountain State Park for a “warm-up” climb on Wednesday.

“They made arrangements with the guide to have a full day or two of training,” Gary said.

Dylan’s fall happened around 3:15 p.m. when he and his friends were climbing on a route known as Chicken Bone.

Dylan and friends were climbing with protection, had set up their ropes and were going up, rangers said. They believe a piece of the equipment either came loose or wasn't properly clipped in.
“Any time you are defying gravity you are at risk,” Gary said.

Dylan was wearing a helmet which protected him from serious injury.

“They said he got up immediately from the fall and walked around,” Gary added.

Dylan was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he underwent testing, was treated and released.

Before his release, Dylan’s friends sent a video to Gary to reassure him that Dylan was doing well.

“Once I saw that I could get to sleep,” Gary said.

Gary encouraged Dylan to follow through with the plan to meet the guide on Thursday, “so that they could figure out what went wrong and how to avoid it again,” he said.

Park Rangers provided some tips for people planning to rock climb. First understand your limitations, climb within your level of experience and skill. Second, know your gear. Lastly, climb with a partner or at least make someone else aware of your plan.

Both Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock State Parks require climbers to fill out a permit before climbing at the parks. The permit is free, will include your information in case something happens and can be obtained at the common areas of both parks.

Rangers say they have about five serious rock climbing-related accidents on Pilot Mountain a year. They average about 8,000 rock climbers a year.

The park averages about 10 accidents requiring carry outs for hikers a year, rangers said. They average about 400,000 hikers each year.

Pilot Mountain State Park had about 800,000 total visitors last year. They have not had a climbing-related fatality in five years.