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A rock climber was airlifted from a ledge on a cliff face after he fell 50 feet and sustained life-threatening injuries, resulting in a harrowing rescue mission Sunday morning in the White Mountains, officials said.

The 20-year-old man was rock climbing on Cannon Cliffs in Franconia Notch State Park in Franconia, N.H., when he fell 50 feet and landed on a ledge just over half way up the rock face, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said in a statement.

At around 11:30 a.m., an emergency beacon was activated in the state park, alerting the Emergency Response Coordination Center. New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers received the coordinates and responded to Cannon Cliffs.

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When officers arrived, the injured rock climber was unconscious on the ledge. They called for two volunteer rescue organizations - the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team and the Mountain Rescue Service - and a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter to help with the rescue.

The teams transported rescue climbers and gear to the top of the cliffs using the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway. The helicopter arrived on scene at 4 p.m. and lowered a medic 160 feet to the ledge.

The man was then loaded onto a stretcher and lifted into the helicopter. He was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.


Maria Lovato can be reached at maria.lovato@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @maria_lovato99.