KSL TV reports two experienced were stuck on a 1,500 foot cliff for 4 days in Zion National Park. Rescue efforts were thwarted by bad weather. The climbers were hungry and cold but did not need hospitalization.
Here’s the NPS Report on the incident:
Zion National Park (UT)
Two Climbers Rescued from Streaked Wall
On Friday, January 7th, climbers Krzysztof Belczynski and Cheryl Seger were rescued from ZionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Streaked Wall after being stranded there in a winter storm for four days. The two had successfully ascended the Latitudes route, a difficult (5.9, A4+) 1,500-foot overhanging big wall route, reaching the top on January 2nd after an eight-day climb. They began their descent the next day, but chose the wrong route. During the descent, they experienced whiteout conditions and heavy snow, which iced up the steep slickrock slabs they were navigating. They realized that they had gone the wrong way, but were unable to retreat due to terrain and weather. Rangers were notified that the climbers were overdue on January 4th; the storm cleared enough to perform an aerial recon on January 6th. The two climbers were located on steep icy slabs late in the day during a weather window which opened just long enough for rangers to drop them a package containing a radio and food. The climbers called on the radio and reported that they had been without food for three days, were relying on snow melt for water, and were wet and cold. Fortunately, they had brought their portaledge (a device that functions as a “portable ledge” for sleeping, resting, or belaying) along as insurance against bad weather. The National Weather Service predicted clear conditions for the morning of January 7th, but with the proviso that they would deteriorate rapidly by noon. Arrangements were made for Grand Canyon to send a short haul helicopter and crew at first light. The uninjured climbers were extracted by short haul early that morning; the storm, which forecasters said would bring heavy snow and last four days, arrived as scheduled. [Submitted by Kevin Killian, Canyon District Ranger]