If you've spent anytime around cliffs, you probably can appreciate that climbing up is a lot easier than climbing back down. Well, for three teens and their mother at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, getting down required quick assistance from park rangers who were able to rappel down and safely get the four back on firm ground.
The incident played out Wednesday afternoon in an area of Lake Powell known as Iceberg Canyon. Rangers on a routine boat patrol were contacted by two kayakers who said that four members of their group had become trapped on a cliff and needed to be rescued. That patrol boat immediately responded to the scene, and two backup boats arrived soon thereafter. Then two climbing rangers were flown to the scene from Page, Arizona.
Here's how the rescue played out:
Arriving on scene, rangers located a teenage boy clinging to a sheer cliff face, struggling to maintain his footing on a 4-inch wide ledge 150 feet above the lake surface. Two other teenage boys were trapped in an alcove near the first boy. One boy’s mother, who had attempted to rescue the three teenagers, had become trapped on another ledge 50 feet above the boys’ location.
Four rangers trained in technical rescue climbed to a position 200 feet above the lake surface where they traversed a ledge to a position directly above the stranded boys. The rangers rappelled down to the teenagers, used climbing gear to secure each one – beginning with the boy on the narrow ledge – and then brought them one at a time up the cliff to a safe position. The rangers last secured the adult, who was in a relatively safe location nearby, and led all four individuals to a location where they could rappel down to the bottom of the canyon. The rescue was completed by 6:00 p.m.
The teenage boys were with a two-family party on a houseboat. The group had been camping in Iceberg Canyon when the three boys decided to go exploring. They were about 100 yards from the houseboat when they became stranded. The boys had climbed up and across a high ledge and then descended into an alcove, where they found that they could not climb back out. One boy, attempting to climb out of the alcove, became stuck on the nearby ledge. The mother then became stranded above the boys while attempting a rescue.
None of the four individuals required medical attention, and all were able to remain with their houseboat group for the night.