Volunteers Rescue Hikers, Climbers

Man survives 80-foot fall in Salome as Search and Rescue responds


Members of Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, Gila County Mounted Posse and the Tonto Basin Fire Department joined forces Saturday to haul an injured hiker out of Salome Canyon after attaching a wheeled litter to a horse.

Members of Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, Gila County Mounted Posse and the Tonto Basin Fire Department joined forces Saturday to haul an injured hiker out of Salome Canyon after attaching a wheeled litter to a horse.

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Rescuers had back-to-back missions in Salome Canyon this weekend after two hikers injured their ankles while canyoneering the picturesque Salome Creek east of Tonto Basin.

Tonto Rim Search and Rescue has already responded to several calls for injured hikers this year. Last month, the group traveled to the southern end of the county to help a man that had fallen 80 feet when his rappelling anchor failed in Parker Creek Canyon.

Commander Bill Pitterle said he anticipates a busy summer rescue season with more and more people canyoneering.

The sport is combination of hiking, climbing, sliding and swimming down canyons.

Salome Canyon, in the Tonto National Forest, is a popular slot canyon among enthusiasts with its towering basalt and granite walls and multiple waterfalls and pools.

“It is getting really popular,” Pitterle said.

Unfortunately, with more people in the creek and on the trail, missions rise exponentially.

On Saturday, a woman hiking the canyon with eight friends injured her ankle half way through the canyon while reportedly sliding down some rocks when she caught her foot. She couldn’t put any weight on her foot, but her friends helped her through the rest of the canyon, lowered her down an 80-foot rappel and then helped carry her out to the trail.

By the time TRSAR, the Gila County Mounted Posse and Tonto Basin Fire Department caught up with the group, they were 2.5 miles from the trailhead. Volunteers loaded the woman onto a litter and wheeled her out of the canyon. The Mounted Posse provided some horsepower by tying a rope to the litter and a horse. Another horse helped haul rope rescue gear.

On Sunday, rescuers returned to Salome Canyon after another hiker injured his ankle, this time near the top of the trail.

Tonto Basin Fire went in first, stabilized the man’s ankle and helped him out to the trail, Pitterle said. He then felt well enough to ride one of the Mounted Posse’s horses out to the trailhead. “The water is moving pretty quick this year in Salome,” Pitterle said. “It may have contributed to both of these rescues.”

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