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Careful Out There: Waterfalls, Cliff-Jumpers, and a Night on the Mountain

Your survival and accident report for the week of August 19th to August 26th

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Unexpected Overnight, Rescue on Colorado 14er

Search and rescue personnel saved a hiker from Pikes Peak on Tuesday afternoon after the missing person failed to summit and spent a night on the mountain. The hiker became cliffed out, and spent the night huddled between rocks. Drone footage of the rescue shows a member of El Paso County Search and Rescue rappelling down to the hiker. The person’s condition is currently unknown. Lesson learned: Scrambling up steep terrain is often easier than descending, and you might not always be able to return the way you came. Always have an exit route in mind when climbing, and avoid shortcuts over unknown terrain. Prepare for an unexpected night out by carrying the ten essentials.

Evacuation from Mt. Washington

A 30-year-old man was rescued from New Hampshire’s tallest peak after injuring his leg on Tuesday. Steven Brandon was hiking the popular Tuckerman Ravine Trail alone when he slipped on a rock and fell and was unable to continue. A nearby hiker assisted Brandon in walking to the nearby Auto Road, where rescue vehicles transported him to the trailhead. Lesson learned: If you’re able, hiking out on an injured leg may be your best option for quickly receiving medical attention. Learn how to splint leg injuries so you can be prepared with whatever is in your pack. 

Hiker Injured while Cliff Jumping in Angeles National Forest

A hiker jumped off a 60-foot cliff into 3-feet-deep water at California’s Hermit Falls on Thursday, suffering a serious injury as a result. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to the incident on Thursday evening and airlifted the man to a hospital. The hiker was reportedly conscious and breathing when rescuers reached him, but his current condition is unknown. Lesson learned: Cliff jumping can be extremely dangerous. Jump only where you know the water is deep enough and clear of obstacles.   

Compound Fracture at Washington Waterfall 

A 45-year-old hiker survived a 20-foot fall at Murhut Falls in Olympic National Forest on Friday. The man suffered a compound fracture to the leg and experienced significant bleeding before being airlifted to a nearby hospital. One of the hiker’s companions reportedly hiked the short distance out, then drove an hour before reaching cell service to call for help. Firefighters rigged a system to transport the injured man across the river and to the trailhead. Lesson learned: Sometimes, help is far away. Learn the basics of wilderness medicine so you can save yourself or assist a hiking partner when things get bad in the backcountry. 

Lethal Fall in Smith Rock State Park 

A man tripped and fell while hiking down a climber’s path in Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park on Saturday morning. Chaitanya Sathe, 35, fell 100 feet near the access to a popular climbing area and was pronounced dead on the scene. Lesson learned: Falls happen. Take caution when hiking over unstable terrain, near steep dropoffs, or uneven footing.  

The wilderness is full of dangers. Raging rivers, unpredictable bears, huge avalanches—no matter how prepared you are, a walk in the woods can go from safe to disastrous in the blink of an eye. Out Alive is BACKPACKER’s podcast about real people who survived the unsurvivable. Learn what went wrong, what went right, and how you can increase your odds if the unimaginable happens to you. Listen now, and stay safe.

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