Search and rescue teams in Washington managed to save a hiker who fell 100 feet off a cliff and into a large boulder field.
The 33-year-old hiker went into hypothermic shock after her fall on Thursday, McClatchy reported. She also suffered serious injuries.
A man who had been hiking with her crawled down to where she was and tried to make her comfortable. He got coordinates for her location using an emergency app on his phone. Then he hiked the four miles back to their car and called 911.
The rescue took about 24 hours, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. Dozens of volunteers participated in the rescue efforts. And the sheriff’s office sent a helicopter to the area where she fell to try to reach her.
Unfortunately, the hiker had dropped into a drainage area enclosed by extremely tall trees, so the helicopter was unable to pick her up directly.
The Daring Rescue
Officials settled on a two-pronged strategy. They deposited two searchers about 850 feet away from the woman. Those two then hiked for two hours to reach her.
At the same time, three search and rescue teams labored nearby to forge a safe path to send down gear. They built a “rigging system to lower the litter and packaging gear down to the patient’s location and then raise her out of the drainage,” the sheriff’s office said, according to McClatchy.
“The patient was placed in the litter and lowered 80 feet with three attendants on one system, transferred to another system, and then raised 200 feet with two attendants,” the sheriff’s office continued. “The subject was then lowered three more pitches: 190 feet, 190 feet, and 245 feet, which brought her to a semi-level terrain.”
Another group of volunteers carried the hiker from there to a clearing about a quarter of a mile away. From that point, the helicopter managed to take her up and bring her to a nearby medical center for care.
The sheriff’s office praised the volunteer teams who worked to save her despite the harsh terrain and difficult weather.