Successful High Angle Rescue at Pinnacles National Park

Monterey, CA – Just before 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 1, 2013, CAL FIRE received a call for a high angle cliff rescue in Pinnacles National Park, near the Chaparral Parking Lot in West Pinnacles (Monterey County). CAL FIRE responded with a chief officer and 2 engines, along with a ranger from Pinnacles National Park.

The first arriving unit made contact with the reporting party (RP), who informed the rescuer that the climbing party was a considerable hike into the park, at the Citadel – in San Benito County. The RP was with the group, but he had chosen not to climb that day. Noticing that the group was very late, as they had started climbing around 1:00 p.m., he went to their climbing location. Finding them trapped, he hiked to the parking lot, and then drove down toward Soledad until he gained cell reception to place the emergency call. Rescuers brought rope rescue supplies, lights, and fluids for the victims.

The RP stated that there were 4 climbers: 1 that had safely descended to the ground, while 3 were still stuck on the rock, with twisted ropes and no lights. At the scene, firefighters found 4 climbers: 3 had disentangled their ropes and descended, while the last was stuck at the very top. She made her way down, but ran out of rope. She climbed back up to the next anchor, tethered to the system, and continued down – only to run out of rope again about 15 feet above the ground. Rather than having her climb up to the next anchor, after being on the rock for over 10 hours, rescuers tied onto her rope above the brake system, then hauled her down by hand. When all were safely on the ground, they rehydrated and hiked back to the parking lot. Back at the parking lot, the victims were evaluated by medical personnel from AMR ambulance. They were not transported to a hospital.

CAL FIRE wants to remind the public to prepare for changes in plans. Ensure that somebody knows where you will be recreating, and what time you should check in. Ensure that you bring sufficient supplies, such as warm clothing and plenty of drinking water.