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Injured Climber Rescued from Face Of Thunderbolt Peak

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

National Park News

On the evening of August 23rd, park dispatch was informed of a mountaineering accident on Thunderbolt Peak in the North Palisades of Kings Canyon National Park. Thunderbolt Peak is a 14,003-foot peak with a popular Class 4 ascent route. Rangers began mobilizing that evening, with the first ranger on scene hiking through the night and arriving in the area before 6 a.m. That ranger was able to confirm calls for help coming from the mountain. Two additional rangers were flown to the area and conducted an aerial reconnaissance, locating the climber on a cliff face above the 13,000-foot elevation. He was on a small sloping ledge in otherwise completely vertical terrain.  A possible short haul operation was dismissed due to unstable and increasing winds. The two rangers were flown to a landing zone near Barrett Lakes, where they began a 1,300-foot Class 4 and 5 ascent to the victim. They reached him in mid-afternoon and found that he was suffering from exposure and from open fractures to his right leg and left arm.  As they were preparing to spend the night on the ledge with him and continue evacuation operations in the morning, there was a brief window of clear and calm weather.  A short haul operation was begun and the climber was successfully removed from the ledge and taken to the base of the mountain.  He was then flown to Bishop, California, where he was admitted into the hospital.


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