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Kane County Sheriff's Office

Helmet likely saved injured climber's life, rescuers say

By Morgan Jacobsen | Posted - Apr 7th, 2014 @ 6:46am

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LAKE POWELL — A Colorado man was rescued Saturday after being injured while climbing a rock face.

About 7 a.m., the man began climbing Gregory Butte, located at buoy 26 in Last Chance Bay at Lake Powell, according to the Kane County Sheriff's Office. Two hours later, the man was more than 500 feet up the cliff when an anchor in the rock failed, causing him to drop about 30 feet. His fall was stopped by a rope attached to his previous anchor, leaving him hanging on the cliff by his harness, according to the sheriff's office.

A large slab of sandstone broke loose when the first anchor came free, falling and hitting the climber in the head, severely injuring him, according to a Kane County Emergency Services news release. Officials say the man's helmet likely saved his life.

The man's friends, who were watching from a boat below, had to leave to find an area with cellphone coverage before calling Glen Canyon Dispatch.

That morning, Kane County Search and Rescue was already involved in a joint training in Kanab with Coconino County Search and Rescue, as well as a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter. The combined teams responded to help the man, who was in an area of San Juan County, according to the sheriff's office.

A large slab of sandstone broke loose, falling and hitting the climber in the head.

Two Glen Canyon National Recreation Area rescuers had already responded by boat and helicopter when other crews arrived.

A five-man team drilled and set anchors on top of the butte, and a medic was lowered to the injured climber. Both men were later raised back to the top by the other four rescuers, officials said.

The injured man was taken in the UHP helicopter to a waiting medical helicopter in Page, Ariz. He was then transported to a hospital in Flagstaff, Ariz.

The man remained in an intensive care unit Sunday but is expected to recover. He is considered an "expert climber," and had completed previous climbs on the same butte that week, according to Kane County officials.

"This is another great example of the collaborative efforts and relationships that have been built and fostered between the agencies of southern Utah, northern Arizona, Utah Highway Patrol and our federal partners at Lake Powell," the Kane County Emergency Services release states.


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