After a man broke both ankles in a 30-foot fall from a cliff face, rescuers spent hours hauling him out of a remote, rugged canyon north of Clints Well Saturday afternoon.
The unidentified man had been rappelling down a cliff face when he fell, breaking both ankles and possibly several other bones including some ribs. He was climbing just off the Tramway Trail, which is located in the West Clear Creek wilderness.
Normally, Coconino County rescuers cover this wilderness area, but because of several wildfires burning in the Flagstaff area, they were unable to send enough people.
It took the group effort of Tonto Rim Search and Rescue volunteers, firefighters and hikers to haul the man three quarters of a mile up an extremely difficult and steep trail, said TRSAR Commander Bill Pitterle.
Reportedly, the man was rappelling with friends when he fell the height of a two-story building. Pitterle said he did not know why the man had fallen.
Hikers in the area carried the man upstream to where the Tramway Trail enters the canyon.
This area has a wide, sandy beach that the hikers hoped a helicopter could land at and airlift the man out. Unfortunately, the canyon proved too narrow for a helicopter, so the TRSAR ropes team was called in to haul the man out on a litter.
Meanwhile, firefighters from Blue Ridge and Pine-Strawberry fire departments hiked down to the man, stabilized him and put him on a backboard.
Several hours later, 15 TRSAR volunteers arrived at the base of the canyon with a metal litter. Every able-bodied person helped carry the man up the trail, which rises 700 feet in three quarters of mile.
“It was an extremely rough, rocky, narrow trail,” Pitterle said.
At two particularly steep sections, crews used ropes to pull the litter up. After two and half hours of arduous hiking, the group made it to the trailhead where the man was transported for medical aid.