By Ann McCreary
A 25-year-old Seattle area woman sustained severe injuries when she fell while rock climbing near Mazama last Sunday (May 3).
Okanogan County Sheriff’s Deputy Ottis Buzzard said the woman was climbing at a popular site called Fun Rock in an upper area known as “A-Wall” when she fell 70 feet to a ledge.
Sheriff’s search and rescue team members responded to a call at 3:45 p.m. along with an ambulance team from Aero Methow Rescue Services and a helicopter from Northwest MedStar.
Buzzard said the helicopter was able to land on the ledge about 300-400 feet above ground level, about 150 yards from the injured climber.
Members of the search and rescue team and the ambulance crew hiked about 20 minutes up a trail to reach the woman. They treated her and carried her to the helicopter, which took her to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee. Buzzard said he believed she was then sent on to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The fall was apparently the result of an accident, or climbing error, rather than an equipment failure, Buzzard said. The woman sustained fractures to her spine and lower extremities, and lacerations.
The search and rescue team was together for a training session near Loup Loup Summit when the call came in, and was able to respond quickly, Buzzard said.
It was also fortunate that the MedStar helicopter was able to find a safe landing site on the ledge a short distance from the victim, saving a long transport by litter down the slope, Buzzard said.