Man stranded on 600-foot cliff, ropes team called in

Iron County Sheriff's Ropes Team gets geared up to rescue man trapped on 600-foot cliff, Cedar City, Utah, June 10, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/CedarCity News

CEDAR CITY — A ropes team brought in to save a 34-year-old Florida man trapped on a 600-foot high cliff left him there Friday night after all efforts to rescue him failed.

Authorities were dispatched to the scene located on state Route 14 at around 9:30 p.m. Reports came in from the man’s friends who said the group had been mountain climbing when the man wandered away from the main party and ended up getting stuck on a cliff near the top of the mountain, Iron County Sheriff Lt. Del Schlosser said.

The mountain the man was hiking when he left his friends is a popular rock-climbing destination adjacent to SR-14. Schlosser said he estimates the trapped man’s location to be about 600 feet above the highway.

Last year 19-year-old Thomas Christensen was killed after he fell from the same peak.

A five-member ropes team from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office ascended the mountain but were unable to rescue the man after a team member was injured in the climb by a rock falling on his ankle, said Mike Gibbs, ICSO commander of the ropes team.

ICSO volunteers brought out a spotlight to help the ropes team but with only four members left to make the climb, and very little light shining on scene, Gibbs said he believed the rescue would be too risky.

“If we have the people in the daylight it’s just another day in the office,” Gibbs said. “It adds risk to it in the dark and we’re short of people.”

Authorities said they believe the man is safe for the night, however, deputies will be periodically checking on him via cell service.

“If he was in danger it would be different but he’s safe, he’s got water and the bottom line is I won’t risk any of my team to save anybody,” Gibbs said.

Rescue efforts will resume at daylight. More crews will be brought in at that time, along with a helicopter that will help lower the ropes teams to the cliff where the man is trapped.

“The amount of gear and manpower we need to have to get up there tonight is a logistics problem and in the morning the plan is to have a helicopter to get us up there,” Gibbs said.

Deputies, volunteers and the ropes team from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, along with officers from the Cedar City Police Department were all on scene.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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