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Out Alive: Hammered by Falling Rocks

After an off-trail slide tosses two hikers down a slope, they’re trapped by their injuries.

Key Skill Safe Group Travel in Steep Terrain


Avoid hiking in the fall line (directly above or below) other hikers. In wide areas, hike downhill in parallel lines, keeping pace with the slowest group
member. In narrow ravines, hike one at a time and regroup in safe zones outside of the fall line (shown). Stay within shouting distance of each other,
and yell “Rock!” if stones come loose. If your route feels steep, loose, or dangerous, stop and backtrack to a safer one.

Never Forget Large rocks may not
support your weight. Take short, quick steps, land near the center, and plan several moves ahead so you can leap to safety if your platform shifts.
Lichen- and grass-covered surfaces are usually more stable (but may be slippery when wet). After rain, soil gets softer and embedded rocks may shift underfoot.

Get Help
Before leaving a victim, prepare him for the wait.

1. Set up camp Leave food, water, and warm clothing.
2. Make a plan Carry a note detailing the victim’s condition, needs, and location.
3. Hike out Send a team of two, if possible. Be conservative and careful; don’t create new victims en route.

Are You Hurt? Learn to assess and stabilize backcountry injuries, and determine which deserve immediate evacuation.

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