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CCSO Search and Rescue Conducts a Climbing Rescue Near Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ – On January 8th at 1717 hours the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a climbing party of five indicating that one of the climbers, a 25-year-old female, had her right leg stuck in crack in the rock after it slipped into the crack while she was climbing up the route on Queen Victoria Spire off of Schnebly Hill Road in Sedona. The climber and her partners could not extricate her leg from the crack. She was at the beginning of the second pitch of a climb on Queen Victoria Spire which meant she was approximately 200 feet above the ground and 150 feet below the summit of the spire. Her climbing partners had tried various methods to get her unstuck but were not successful. She was reported to be in pain, but no obvious injuries were observed.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit responded along with the Sedona Fire District and a request was made for assistance from Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue. Due to the time of day and the operation anticipated a DPS aircraft capable of nighttime hoist capability was needed. Upon the arrival of the Air Rescue helicopter in the area a rescue plan was developed to insert a Trooper/Medic to the scene by hoist to assess the situation and make attempts to free the climber from the crack. A team of Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue technical rescue personnel with rope rescue equipment was prepared to be inserted on the top of the spire by helicopter to rig a rope rescue system to assist. A Sedona Fire District team of technical rescue personnel were staged at the base of the climb to assist if needed.
After the assessment by the Trooper/Medic on scene it was determined that additional assistance from the technical rescue personnel was needed, so four technical rescue personnel and equipment were inserted to the top of the spire by helicopter to begin setting up the system. While the system was being prepared, the efforts by the Trooper/Medic were successful in freeing the climber’s leg from the crack. The helicopter was brought back in to hoist out two climbers and the Trooper/Medic from the scene. In addition, the helicopter was used to pick up the four rescuers and the additional three climbers from the top of the spire to transport them back to the incident command post. The climbers were evaluated by paramedics from Sedona Fire District and later refused additional medical care before leaving the scene.
This mission was complicated by operating in the dark on steep and complex terrain. The interagency relationships and training between the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, the Sedona Fire District, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue were instrumental in the successful response and outcome of this mission.