Saturday afternoon, CAL FIRE, Station 23 and Helicopter 301 from Hemet-Ryan Air base, Idyllwild Fire Department and the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit were rescued rock climbers off of Tahquitz Rock. One had minor injuries and the other minor to moderate. Mercy Air ambulance transported this climber to a local hospital.
Graham Shelton from Raleigh, North Carolina was among a group of Tahquitz climbers ascending a pitch on Saturday, May 12, when a microwave-sized rock dislodged above the climbers, came crashing down, splintering on the way and injuring one man and one woman. The woman received facial cuts and was successfully lowered down to waiting first responders.
The more seriously injured climber took longer to lower, according to Shelton. A group of about eight climbers in the immediate vicinity of the injured climber began setting anchors and ropes to lower the man, who had been hit in the chest with a large piece of rock. “He was in bad shape,” said Shelton, “having trouble breathing and making some gurgling sounds.”
Within 20 minutes, cooperating in teams, the climbers lowered the man to waiting first responders. CAL FIRE transported the man by helicopter to an area hospital. The woman was transported by ground ambulance.
Photos by Jenny Kirchner