Five hikers rescued from 200-foot cliff after spending night on mountain

Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-27 09:21:29-04

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah - A group of hikers in southern Utah had to rescued Thursday morning after getting ledged out on a 200-foot cliff.

The five friends set out for a late night hike Wednesday in the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, and they ran out of food and water and had to spend the night on the mountain.

Henry Bishop was one of those hikers. He admits the group was ill prepared for such a long hike so late in the evening. With only cell phones for light, the group quickly lost track of the trail. Bishop said they tried to climb down the mountain, but they kept getting turned around.

“It was more due to how dark it was,” Bishop said. “We were so tired that every ledge started looking the same.”

Search and rescue crews got the call just after 8 a.m. The group of five friends were ledged out in two areas, within earshot of campgrounds--but 200 feet straight up. Washington County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Liaison Deputy Darrel Cashin said rescuers knew it would be a high angle rescue.

“[Rescuers] went and hiked from both the top and the side trying to get to these subjects,” Cashin said. “Finally, three members from the top rappelled down to the first ledge, then they walked down and walked the other two back up.”

From there, rescuers lowered all five off the mountain using belaying. Aside from some minor cuts and bruises and dehydration, the five friends were in good spirits and grateful to be rescued.

The Red Cliffs Recreation Area is managed by the BLM, and posted signs prohibit hiking after dark and rock climbing in non-designated areas. None of them were cited, but they said they realize they were out later than they should have been.

“It was more the fact that we kept pushing to go for more of an adventure,” said rescued hiker Caleb Comstock. “Instead of looking at it logically.”

This make 32 rescues for the Washington County Sheriff’s office since the first of the year, four in the past week. Cashin said the message remains the same: Be prepared before going out in the wilderness, and make sure you know the terrain so you don’t get stuck.