AN intrepid 82-year-old climber had to be rescued after falling in a mine shaft and getting stuck over night.
Jim Salvona was on his own exploring the 18ft deep shaft in Midlothian when disaster struck.
Jim, from Edinburgh, fell off a ladder on the way back up and injured his back.
In severe pain and a confined space, he was then forced to stand upright for 12 hours before rescuers arrived.
But rescuers reported that Jim’s main concern on being rescued was
“what his wife was going to do to him.”
The octogenarian, who has been exploring caves for decades, was reported missing after he failed to return from his outing.
It is understood that he had left word with his wife that he was cave climbing and rescuers found Jim after checking all the most likely locations.
Scottish Cave Rescue member Ross Davidson was one of those who helped pluck Jim from his rocky prison in Roslin Glen.
“Mr Salvona went to examine what turn out to be an 18ft shaft.
“He went part way down a rope ladder but slipped on his back up and fell down the shaft.
“He was quite chirpy when we found him but he was in a fair bit of pain. “
Ross said that ropes were lowered into the cave and stretcher was used to lift him to safety.
“We had to put him in the stretcher standing because he’d hurt his back.
“I have known him for about seven years and think he’d had a few bumps and scrapes before but I don’t think he had been involved in a rescue operation like this before.
“He’s truly amazing, he really is. You can understand why we were all a bit worried but it’s a happy outcome. “
Ross said that he believed Jim had been in the cave since about 5 or 6 pm on Tuesday night.
“He was there for over 12 hours and he had to stand up. That must have been very frightening. “
Another rescuer, Bryan Jones, said:
“He was glad we had found him and was pleased to hear a voice.
“He was in really good spirits for someone who was 82 years old and was making light of his predicamaent.
“In fact, he was more worried about what his wife was going to do to him. I don’t think he’ll go down that hole again. “
Bryan said he understood that Jim had no mobile phone with him and no food. He tried to get out of the shaft but was unable to. and he moved about during the night to try and keep warm.
Jim had been looking for historical underground features when the accident happened.
As he was being ferried from the scene by a special off-road ambulance he was heard to say:
“I want to go home.”
Following the accident, Jim was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary by ambulance.
Jim is a member of the Grampian Speleological Group (GSG), whose members specialise in discovering and exploring caves.
His membership of the group is understood to have spanned decades, during which time he won the GSG’s Golden Gnome award for his daring exploits.
He took part in the discovery of a long-lost smuggler’s cave at Aberlady, East Lothian, as well as the discovery of several new entrances to the Tyndrum Lead Mines.
Jim lives with his wife, Louise, in a flat in Stenhouse, Edinburgh.
A downstairs neighbour, Jill Dunn, 39, said that Jim was always out walking.
She said: “Him and Louise are fitter than me.
“I’m not surprised that he was out himself as I saw him walking himself last week but they do normally go in groups.
“I know him reasonably well. I’ve lived here for four years and I’ve known him for that time. He is really nice.
“I hope that he is okay.”