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Rescue of Hikers in Waterholes Canyon

Rescue of Hikers in Waterholes Canyon
March 16
13:29 2017

On Sunday, at approximately 8:45 p.m the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and its Search and Rescue Unit responded to a report of two overdue hikers in Waterholes Canyon south of Page.

Two male hikers, who began their hike into the canyon at approximately 12:00 p.m., failed to return to their car as expected. Deputies, with the assistance of a Classic Lifeguard helicopter from Page found the hikers in the canyon between two different rappels. The hikers were stranded and were unable to move up or down canyon. The hikers were ill equipped and did not have adequate clothing, food, or water.

Search and Rescue teams arrived at approximately 12:30 a.m. and hiked to the rim above the hikers. A supply kit containing warm clothing, food, water, bivouac sack, hot packs, and a radio was lowered to the hikers. It was confirmed by radio conversation that the hikers were not injured but were stranded. Due to onset of darkness and the risk of a nighttime rescue operation, it was determined that further rescue would wait until daylight. Search and Rescue personnel bivouacked on the rim above the hikers location until daylight.

At daylight the Search and Rescue team established artificial anchors and lowered a rescuer to the hikers’ location. One at a time the hikers were raised to the rim of the canyon using a mechanical advantage rope system. Once at the top of the rim the hikers were evaluated; both refused additional medical care. The hikers were then reunited with the rest of their party.

Later that same day, deputies in Page assisted Navajo Police Department in rescuing a teenage girl who had been climbing near the same area.

The Search and Rescue Unit wants to remind hikers entering northern Arizona canyons to be aware of their surroundings and take the appropriate equipment and clothing for the trip. Some canyons require down climbing or rappelling and hikers should be prepared to ascend sections that they have previously descended. While the temperatures during the day may be warm, once the sun sets, the canyon environment can become cold rapidly.

Weather should always be evaluated when entering a canyon. Rain upstream from also can cause dangerous flash flooding in canyons.

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