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Sedona Hiker Airlifted Off Mountain

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Sedona AZ hiker rescued

Sedona AZ (February 17, 2015) – On February 15, 2015, just after 1:00 in the afternoon, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to the Thunder Mountain Trail on Capitol Butte in Sedona. A 66-year-old Idaho climber had hiked to the top of the mountain, but a trail down stranded him on a ledge which he could not traverse because of a prior shoulder injury.

Along with members of the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team Back Country Unit (BCU), a YCSO Rescue 1 helicopter responded. Using landmark information provided by the stranded climber, the air crew confirmed a technical rescue involving rope lines was necessary.

BCU rescuers climbed to the ledge location and secured the hiker for air transport. A DPS Ranger helicopter arrived to provide a short haul airlift to a base camp and completed the rescue just after 5:00 p.m. (see photos).

However, during this rescue, a man living in the area wanted to help the stranded hiker. This “helper” was apparently very familiar with Capitol Butte topography having assisted people off the mountain in the past. But, in this case, YCSO indicated he prolonged the rescue effort.

Idaho climber successfully airlifted off Capitol Butte in Sedona

Idaho climber successfully airlifted off Capitol Butte in Sedona

During the air rescue, the “helper’s” wife contacted YCSO deputies at base camp. She explained that her husband was in the process of climbing Capitol Butte to rescue the hiker. Even after relaying a message to cease involvement, including direct contact by members of the BCU team on site, the “helper” refused to leave. A short time later, deputies explained to him that the helicopter would not airlift the stranded climber until he vacated the area. He then complied.

This “helper’s” intrusion was a concern because winds generated by the DPS helicopter can cause dangerous flying debris and other hazards. Additionally, rescuers had to take time and focus off the stranded Idaho climber to deal with the intrusion, an unnecessary and unjustified risk and delay.

While an offer to help is always appreciated, in this case it became a hindrance. In the end, the stranded climber was safely extricated, but the effort took longer than necessary. If time is a factor during a rescue, any delay may result in an adverse outcome.

Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260.


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For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!


  1. Eve Gourley says:

    Like this too. (add me as friend on FB)

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