NPS Digest has a report this morning that over the past several weeks, search and rescue responders at Shenandoah National Park have conducted nine search and rescue operations, five of them becoming major SAR incidents. Here are some details on a couple of those incidents:
* A 24-year-old man was climbing grape vines along the Hazel River Trail and only recognized the folly of this activity when he was about 50 feet above the ground. The grape vines broke before he could get down, causing him to fall about 35 feet. The man fractured both ankles, with one of them being an open fracture. In addition to being in one of the more remote areas of the park, the four-and-a-half mile carryout was conducted in a heavy rainstorm and required four swiftwater crossings as a result of swollen creeks.
* A 57-year-old man was rock climbing with two companions near the summit of Old Rag Mountain. Through a possible miscommunication, the lead climber took the second climber off belay. When the second climber pulled on the unsecured belay line, expecting it to hold, it gave way and he fell 50 feet to a lower ledge and sustained several serious injuries. While the park’s ground team was mobilizing, initial rescuers stabilized the man and assisted the US Park Police air rescue helicopter in a litter hoist evacuation.
* A group of hikers headed out on an off-trail route toward one of the park’s summits. Two women from the group took an alternate route and became disoriented. They reported their predicament by cell phone after it got dark and were asked to remain in place overnight, since the weather was favorable. A search began for them in the morning and the two women were located. Both were in good condition.
* In a separate report, a hiker was attacked by a rabid raccoon in White Oak Canyon in Shenandoah National Park on May 26th. The woman was bit in the leg, and received a series of shots after it was confirmed that the raccoon had rabies.
Most search and rescue operations in Shenandoah become major SAR incidents because of the difficulty of the terrain and rugged nature of the trails. SAR operations are only successfully completed because of the cooperation of all divisions and the enthusiasm shown by the numerous employees who volunteer and train for these difficult operations.