Tuesday, November 9, 2010

RMRU rescues Tahquitz climbers in dangerous conditions

Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) pulled two climbers off the face of Tahquitz Rock during what Lee Arnson called “brutal conditions.” What began as a textbook rescue on a beautiful Sunday, Dec. 7 night quickly deteriorated “into a full blown technical over the side mission with weather as dangerous as it gets,” as described by Arnson.

Two 23-year-old climbers from Santa Cruz, properly clothed and equipped, began their climb in beautiful weather Sunday during the day on a moderate ascent route and got off track. They wound up stranded 80 feet from the top of the peak, near White Maiden’s Walkaway, unable to go back or forward. “They went into a bad route and got way above their climbing ability,” said Arnson. The climbers used a cell phone to call 911. RMRU mobilized at 7, and had three members in place on the top of the peak by 10 that night. Arnson described rappelling down to the stranded climbers in rain, snow, winds gusting up to 50 M.P.H. and fog beginning to set in, using the voices of the climbers to orient the descending team.

By 3:30 a.m. the climbers were off the rock and at Humber Park thanks to Lee Arnson, Les Walker, and new member Donny Goetz, himself an accomplished climber. “Les and Donny were the technical guys,” said Arnson. “It was gold.”

Manning a Humber communication base and serving as backup were RMRU
members Paul Caraher and Carlos Carter.

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