Utah Climber Rescued After Rock ‘Size of a Refrigerator’ Rolled on Him in Area Called ‘Certain Death’

by Emily Morgan

A rescue team got a Utah climber to safety after he attempted to climb an area known as “Certain Death.” The climber called in for help after a large rock “the size of a refrigerator” rolled on top of him.

Rescue crews got to the scene around 4 p.m. to a call of an injured climber in the Gate Buttress area of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The canyon is part of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, located 15 miles outside of Salt Lake City, UT.

“Two climbers had been navigating new routes in a waterfront area above a location called “Certain Death” when the accident occurred,” an official said. “One climber had pulled off a large rock the size of a refrigerator that rolled over the top of him,” the department added.

Rescue Team Saves Utah Climber From ‘Certain Death’

The department dispatched two teams to reach the climbers. Still, officials said the rough terrain and the climber’s injuries required a helicopter to airlift him safely off the mountain. All in all, the rescue took about 90 minutes.

Officials called a LifeFlight helicopter and hoisted the injured climber off the mountain. However, the department did not reveal the climber’s current condition or how seriously he was injured.

The Utah climber embarked on a route in Little Cottonwood Canyon, a steep canyon not for the faint of heart. “Certain Death” is an area within the canyon that makes for a challenging climb. The signifying characteristic of the ascent is the steep crack in the landscape.

“This route was probably named this scary name because it was first climbed back when large protection was unavailable,” a climber said. “With modern big gear one could sew it up.”

This incident also marks the 11th rescue undertaken by the search and rescue team this year. In April, two climbers were stranded in the same canyon. Luckily, the rescue team was able to use high-powered lights to guide them to a safe descent.

Hours earlier, the climbers attempted to climb a route known as the Schoolroom in the Gate Buttress area. Although they finished the course, they didn’t have enough light to find rappel stations to descend safely. The climbers made it safely down the mountain around 2 a.m. with no injuries reported.

On an annual average, the rescue team contributes 5,000 to 7,000 hours of their own time responding to callouts, training for emergencies, and conducting public awareness presentations for the locals.