Thursday, Aug 30, 2012
On August 16th, Deterich Bolck, a 77-year-old German national, hiked into the lower end of the Left Fork route, intending to visit a formation about four-and-a-half miles from the trailhead. Late in the day, Bolck slipped on a rock and injured his knee. To avoid cramps and stay warm, he slowly hiked in circles through the night. On the morning of the 17th, Bolck encountered some hikers who sent a text message to relatives requesting assistance from the park. Ranger Nick Wood hiked to Bolck's location about two-and-a-half miles from the trailhead and found that he was able to walk slowly. Bolck believed that he could hike to the trailhead, so he and Wood slowly began making their way out of the canyon. Over the next six hours, Bolck and Wood hiked one mile. An ascent of a steep 500 foot slope is required about a half mile from the Left Fork trailhead; although hikers travel up and down the slope on a well-used social trail, a litter carry up the slope would be challenging and hazardous to rescuers. As dark approached, Bolck still had not reached the bottom of the ascent. A ranger spent that night in the canyon with him. After a good night's sleep, Bolck's mobility had not improved. Rangers discussed options for carrying him up the hill, including a direct carry up the difficult route, a 700 foot guiding line, or a helicopter short haul operation. Based on available resources, the non-critical nature of Bolck’s injuries, and the lowest overall risk to rescuers, the decision was made to construct a guiding line up the steep slope. The guiding line consisted of a main line and a belay line with a track line that could be slackened or tightened to move Bolck and an attendant away from a talus slope and the rock fall zone. Fifteen park employees and members of the Kane County SAR team constructed the guiding line on the morning of August 18th. After hauling Bolck to the top of the steep ascent, he was carried by litter to the trailhead, where he arrived at 2:30 p.m.