COLORADO CITY, Ariz. – Five boys ages 10-18 were rescued early Monday morning from a rugged wilderness area near Colorado City after becoming stuck on a ledge while hiking.
The boys were hiking in the Cottonwood Point Wilderness, an area known to locals as “East Mountain,” and had tried to take a shortcut to beat the approaching darkness.
“They had been trying to come down the mountainside and got ledged out, to where they couldn’t get up or down,” Colorado City Fire Chief Kevin Barlow said.
A technical rescue team was sent around the back side of the mountain, and then across the top to try to reach the stranded boys from above.
“But it was just too treacherous to try to work their way down to where they could access them from the top,” Barlow said.
Rescuers were preparing to help the boys wait it out until daylight, Barlow said, but another team sent from below was able to reach the boys and lower them off of the ledge.
“Sounded like there was about a 40-50-foot rappel, to get them down from where they’d made it to,” he said.
The boys, who were all from the twin communities of Colorado City and Hildale, were a little cold but uninjured, Barlow said.
Rescues on the mountain are not unheard of and this is not the first time people have been rescued from the mountain.
“That particular mountain is pretty unforgiving if somebody tries to take a shortcut,” Barlow said. “It’s quite easy to get ledged out, where they can’t go up or down.”
Hikers are advised to be prepared with warm clothing and supplies in order to survive the night if needed, Barlow said. Taking food, water and a way to start a fire are also essential, as is careful planning of the hiking route.
“(Lack of) preplanning is what got them in trouble, they were trying to take a shortcut to beat the dark,” he said.
Barlow received the first call about the stranded boys at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening, Barlow said, and rescue crews did not get down off the mountain until 5 a.m. Monday. About 15 people from both the fire department and the Marshal’s Office responded to the incident.
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