Fallen Climber

October 15, 2022
Suicide Rock, Idyllwild

Written by: Richard Yocam

On 10/15/2022 at about 1348 hours Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit received a request to locate and rescue a rock climber who had fallen while on Suicide Rock and might have broken both ankles. His climbing companion reported that he had taken a 12-foot fall while attaching to an anchor and landed on a narrow ledge partway up the Johnny Quest climbing route.

The Riverside Sheriff’s Aviation Unit was not available to assist due to stormy weather. Cal FIRE, which was notified shortly before RMRU, was the first on scene with the subject and performed the initial patient assessment and packaging, including splinting both ankles.

The first RMRU Team (James and Richard) hurried up the climber’s trail while Vinay remained at the trailhead to assure adequate radio communications to the command post at Idyllwild Fire Station. When they reached the subject, Cal FIRE had shortly before commenced a litter carryout descent on the climber’s trail.

Downpour at base during which RMRU was helping to carry out subject.

Just at that moment, the approaching storm arrived with heavy rain mixed with hail, and the trail turned into a small stream of water. During the slow and careful descent of the steep, rocky, and slippery trail, the litter team was joined by additional RMRU personnel (Vinay, Shani, and Donny), additional Cal FIRE personnel, and US Forest Service personnel, who assisted in the litter carry out. At about 1514 and after fending off hypothermia, the litter team transferred care of the subject at the trailhead to AMR, who transported him to a hospital for further care.

(L-R) Donny, Beth, Shani, and Venay) back at base, mission over.

Immediately after completion of this rescue, RMRU received a call for another mission, for a hiker needing assistance on Thomas Mountain.

RMRU Members Involved: (Tom Blanke, Coby Brown, James Eckhardt, Michael George, Donny Goetz, Beth Jeffery, Shani McCullough, Steven Rider, Vinay Rao, and Richard Yocum)

Other Agencies Involved: (Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputies, Cal Fire, and US Forest Service)