Operation Fulford Fall – Day 2

1000 feet above the valley floor

The view at 1,000 feet above the valley floor is nothing short of breathtaking.

The second day scenario was a report of a missing hiker/climber whose emergency locator beacon was activated overnight.  The team had coordinates from the beacon and had a good idea of where to find the subject – about 1000 feet above the floor of the valley.  The incident commander decided to hike up with the team to have a better opportunity to manage the rescue.

Cave Entrance

A 50 foot high, 120 foot wide cave entrance greeted the team.

The team was able to approach the coordinates from below, only to be stopped by a 70 foot cliff with a gaping cave entrance, 50 feet tall by about 120 feet wide.  They guessed that the subject was up above and sent a small team up to look at what was at the top of the cliff.  The rescuers were able to climb up and located the subject, who was hypothermic from spending the night above 10,000 feet without proper equipment.

Cliff Problem

The cliff above the cave created a significant logistical problem.

Rope Bag

O-41, first one up the cliff, anchors a rope and throws down a rope bag to help other team members up.

Rigging the Cliff

O-35 and O-41 rig the cliff for access by the rest of the team.

Team members rigged the cliff to get more rescuers and equipment up.  It was decided that rather than taking the subject down a steep cliff full of uncooperative brush, they would use the cave skylight to lower the subject before evacuating him off the mountain.

Making a Path

Left: O-35 studies the rope snagged on brush some 30 feet below him – and 20 feet off the ground.
Right: O-35 and O-41 fix the rope as O-1 watches.

The entire team climbed the cliff and while some members treated and packaged the subject, others rigged the skylight for the rescue.  The subject was successfully lowered.  The entire team chose to rappel down through the skylight, rather than fight their way down the cliff face.

Rigged and Ready

Left: The cliff face is rigged for rescuers to come up.
Right: The skylight at the mouth of the cave is also rigged, to lower the subject.

Going Down

O-41 serves as the litter attendant, taking the subject down the skylight in a sked.

Six Dogs

Six dogs wait for their owners to return at the mouth of the cave. Someone had to guard all the gear left behind.

Leave a Reply