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Tricky rescue for fallen, stuck Smith Rock climbers

By KTVZ.COM news sources
Published On: May 12 2013 05:35:24 PM CDT
Updated On: May 12 2013 05:49:17 PM CDT
Smith Rock State Park

TERREBONNE, Ore. -

A Bend woman who fell about 30 feet while climbing Saturday at Smith Rock State Park became stuck with her climbing partner on a narrow ledge more than halfway up a 500-foot rock face, prompting a four-hour, successful rescue operation, authorities said.

Around 5:15 p.m., Deschutes County 911 got a call from Ryan Orr, 29, reporting that his climbing partner, Kathy Pawelski, 34, was injured in a fall in the “Wherever I May Roam” climbing area, said sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Winters, assistant Search and Rescue coordinator.

Orr said Pawelski had fallen about 30 feet while rappelling and the two of them were stuck on a narrow ledge about 300 feet from the ground and 200 feet from the top of the rock face, Winters said. He advised she was unable to continue the descent and requested help.

Three sheriff’s deputies and 15 Sheriff’s Search and Rescue volunteers responded to the park to help Redmond Fire Department rope rescuers, Winters said.

The first SAR volunteers arrived shortly after 6 p.m. and two climbed to the top of the rock face, above the two climbers, and rappelled down to their location, while the other SAR members and Redmond fire crews hiked in to the base of the rock with more gear, the deputy said.

SAR members hoisted equipment and supplies to the pair who were with the climbers, Winters said. Pawelski was secured to one of the SAR members, who did a vertical rappel about 300 feet to the rock base and the other waiting volunteers.

Pawelski then was lowered by wheeled litter about 200 feet down a slope of about 50 degrees to the trail, Winters said.

Around 9:15 p.m., she was brought across the Crooked River on a rubber raft, then taken by a Redmond Fire Department ambulance to St. Charles-Redmond for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, Winters said.

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