Summit County Search and Rescue helps save man after 150-foot fall near King’s Peak
His rescue took nearly five hours
October 19, 2017
Editor’s note: Additional information was made available by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, Oct. 20, and those updates are reflected in the article below.
A 22-year-old man from Lehi had to be rescued Wednesday night after he plummeted nearly 150 yards down a steep embankment while hiking with a friend in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
At 7:07 p.m. Wednesday, Summit County's Public Safety Dispatch Center received a report that a man had fallen in Anderson's Pass chute near King's Peak and sustained severe head injuries, including a possible broken leg, according to Lt. Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff's Office. He said King's Peak, which is considered the highest point in Utah with an elevation of 13,528 feet, is one of the few areas in the Uinta Mountains with cellphone coverage.
The man and his friend entered the area on Tuesday and had camped overnight at Dollar Lake, Wright said. He said they planned on summiting King's Peak on Wednesday, but became tired during the excursion.
"When they got part of the way they got really tired and decided they would come back down," he said. "They had heard Anderson's chute was a shortcut and felt comfortable enough to at least attempt it, even though there was 8 inches of snow on the ground."
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Wright said the victim was hiking ahead of his friend when he fell at around 6:30 p.m. Responders estimated he slid down a rock- and debris-filled steep slope for about 120 yards before tumbling for another 20 yards, hitting rocks on his way down.
Members of Summit County's Search and Rescue team responded to the call and immediately requested air support because of the steep terrain, Wright said.
The Utah Air National Guard sent a Black Hawk helicopter to help hoist the victim up the embankment. Helicopters were also sent by the Department of Public Safety and Intermountain Healthcare. The rescue took nearly five hours to complete.
"The operation was pretty challenging," Wright said. "After the National Guard was able to hoist him up, he was transported in a helicopter down to a hospital in the Salt Lake Valley."
The victim was in critical, but stable condition on Thursday, Wright said. He added, "But he is slowly improving."
Wright emphasized the importance of recreating with at least one other person, adding "The outcome definitely could have been different."
"It was cold up there, with spots of snow," he said. "It was also getting dark. We could have had a more tragic outcome if he wasn't with people who were able to call us and get him out of there."