Climber seriously injured after boulder comes loose

A climber was seriously injured in Little Cottonwood Canyon after rescuers said a boulder came loose and rolled over him.

Two climbers were navigating through Gate Buttress above an area known as “Certain Death” on Sunday when crews said the refrigerator-sized rock came free.

“His climbing partner said he was above him a little bit and kind of heard a yell and some loud noises and looked back and kind of saw this big boulder tumbling down,” said Mike Finger, a volunteer with Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue who was one of the first on scene. “His partner popped up and kind of ran for a couple feet and fell over and started yelling in pain.”

Finger said the man, who was described as an experienced climber, suffered serious injuries to his back.

Crews carefully made their way up the steep, rocky terrain for a rescue, but a medical helicopter ultimately hoisted the injured climber off the mountain.

“He’s lucky he didn’t get pinned under or anything like that,” Finger said.

At a time when more climbers and hikers have been heading to the outdoors amid rising temperatures, Finger urged even the most experienced climbers to be careful.

“We had an injured climber on Friday, too, so this was our second injured climber in, I don’t know, 48 hours?” Finger said. “A lot of times spring comes around and the rocks have loosened from the freeze-melt cycle over the winter.”

He also encouraged people to study the route they plan to traverse and know what the trail is like, as well as bring water, food, extra clothing and a fully-charged cellphone.

Finger also urged those heading to the outdoors to let someone know where and when they are going ahead of time and when they plan to return.

Regardless, he expected rescuers to get much busier in the months ahead.

“Summer picks up and I guess it’s our time to shine!” Finger said.

credit ksl

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