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Climber severely injured after anchor fails more than 500 feet up cliff face

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Posted at 7:48 PM, Apr 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-06 22:13:01-04

LAKE POWELL –A climber was severely injured about 500 feet above the ground after an anchor he set into the rock failed and a slab of stone fell and hit him in the head.

Emergency responders from various agencies coordinated to recover the man and transport him to a hospital via medical helicopter.

According to a information from Kane County Emergency Services, a man from Grand Junction, Colorado was climbing Gregory Butte, which is located in Last Chance Bay at Lake Powell. The man was more than 500 feet up the cliff face by around 9 a.m. when an anchor he had set failed and he fell about 30 feet, leaving him hanging from his harness high above his friends waiting in a boat below.

Officials stated a sandstone slab came loose as the anchor did, and the rock struck the climber in the head as it fell. The release stated: “It is very possible that his life was saved by the use of a proper helmet.”

The man’s companions had to drive their boat elsewhere to obtain cell phone coverage, and Glen Canyon and Kane County Sheriff’s Office dispatch officials received the reports.

A Kane County Search and Rescue crew was training with crews from Coconino County, and they were in Kanab, Utah. The teams were also working with a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter. Those teams began working on a rescue plan, and though the incident was found to be in San Juan County, the teams in Kanab responded—as they were closer than San Juan County resources.

Rescue workers were taken by helicopter to the top of Gregory Butte, where they met with personnel from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Crews were able to send a medic down to the injured climber. The medic secured the victim and both were then lifted to safety.

The patient was transported via Guardian Air medical helicopter and ultimately taken to a hospital in Page, Arizona. Specific details regarding the man’s condition were not immediately available.

Kane County officials stated: “This is another great example of the collaborative efforts and relationships that have been build and fostered between the agencies of Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, Utah Highway patrol and our Federal Partners at Lake Powell. Thanks to all involved in this successful and safe rescue.”