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Smith Rock - Stranded on rock

The primary purpose of these experience reports and the published Annual Report of Accidents in North American Mountaineering is to aid in the prevention of accidents.

Narrative Description of Accident:
On Tuesday, July 14, 2009, Samuel Wilson, age 18, and his friend, age 17, both from the state of Washington, called 911 at 6:30 pm. They had been climbing routes all day at Smith Rock State Park and had become stranded about 100 feet below a popular feature known as Monkey Face and about 250 feet above an access trail.

Their rope had become stuck and they were exhausted and stranded on a ledge.

Twenty seven Members of the Deschutes County Search and Rescue Unit assembled and set up a Command Post.

Six members of the SAR Mountain Rescue Unit established a position in an area known as the "Springboard" and lowered a member of their Team to assess the young climber's situation on the ledge. The two climbers were then attached to a rescue rope system and lowered approximately 250 feet to the trail below.

The climbers were met at this location and treated at the scene. They were then escorted down the trail and transported by raft across the Crooked River to the Command Post.

The Deschutes County rescue took approximately six hours.

Analysis of Accident: What knowledge and techniques will help prevent future accidents?
Local climbers guiding at Smith Rock State Park suggest the young climbers study traditional self rescue techniques. The climbers had become exhausted and de-hydrated on a very warm day in the Central Oregon desert. Their chosen route was in the direct sun; Smith Rock regulars often pick their sport routes of the day with sun or shade in mind.

Report filed by Robert Speik for the 63rd edition of ANAM to be published in 2010
Copyright© 2009-2010 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.


What can be learned from this event?

The primary purpose of our TraditionalMountaineering experience reports (and the purpose of the American Alpine Club's sixty-two published Annual Reports of Accidents in North American Mountaineering) is to "aid in the prevention of accidents".

Our Report to the American Alpine Club for the 2010 edition of Accidents in North American Mountaineering is based on interviews with witnesses, expert rock climbers and on a the Mission description released by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Unit.
--Robert Speik


Local news report of this event

2 climbers stranded at Smith Rock are rescued overnight
By Inka Bajandas, The Bulletin
July 16. 2009

Members of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team spent six hours Tuesday night rescuing two young climbers who got stranded on a ledge about 350 feet up a rock face at Smith Rock State Park, officials said.

The two climbers, Samuel Wilson, 18, and a 17-year-old male whose name police wouldn’t release because he is minor, both of Washington, were repelling down a rock face close to the popular climbing rock known as Monkey Face when their equipment failed, leaving them stuck on the ledge, unable to ascend or descend around 5:30 pm Tuesday, said Sgt. Scott Shelton, Search and Rescue coordinator for the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

The climbers, who had been climbing at Smith Rock since Tuesday morning, got about 100 feet down the side of the rock before their rope system got stuck. Wilson used his cell phone to call 911 around 6:30 p.m. after the two of them tried unsuccessfully to get to the ground.

Almost 30 members of the Search and Rescue team responded. Because the young men had been climbing all day, Shelton said, they had run out of water and were dehydrated. A two-person team from Search and Rescue lowered food and water to the climbers on the ledge. Later, a rescue climber attached the stranded young men to a rope system and lowered them 250 feet to the trail below. A Search and Rescue medical unit treated the climbers, but they were in good condition, Shelton said.

“It really wasn’t that long of a process when you think about it,” Shelton said of the six-hour rescue effort.

Working in the dark slowed the process down a bit, he said, although rescuers used a portable light tower to illuminate the side of the rock face. Mostly, he said, they just wanted to be careful.

“That’s one reason it takes a lot of time,” he said. “We always have a rescue plan for the rescuers.”

Both climbers had several years of climbing experience and had climbed at Smith Rock before.

Search and Rescue returned the climbers to their campsite around 1 am, Shelton said. They told rescuers they planned to stay in the area and continue to hike around for several days.






Read more . . .
American Alpine Club
Oregon Section of the AAC
Accidents in North American Mountaineering

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