A couple of years ago I got to spend some time with my dad rock climbing in the North Cascades in Washington. My eyes were set on a very easy 5.9 big wall multi-pitch route called Prime Rib of Goat on the Goat Wall in Mazama. The route that we climbed was 1300ft of vertical cliff and one of the most popular beginner routes for getting into large climbs. Both my dad and I are knowledgeable when comes to climbing and were looking for a nice relaxing day on the wall. This is how that relaxing day turned into a crazy rescue…
The trip started out as any normal climbing trip would, an early 6 am flight as we had to get all of our climbing gear through airport security. Once the plane landed, we picked up our rental car and the gorgeous 3.5 hr drive up I-5 along the bay and straight on through the North Cascade National Park. Mazama is a small town with a population of only 158 people located on the East side the Cascades. Once we reached our destination and set up camp, we decided to do a little warm up on the wall to try and beat the stiffness and fatigue from a full day of travel.
The next morning, we woke up a little on the late side (around 7:30 am) got a light breakfast and set out for our goal the Goat Wall. The wall was a short 3 miles outside of town with a not so easy 1-mile hike in 95°F temperatures up a Scree field (basically hill of loose rock at the base of a mountain). Once we reached the base, we loaded up our gear onto our harnesses and started climbing to the first set of anchors (this is what is known as a pitch in climbing terms). Pitches 1 – 6 were fairly straight forward and easy going, water was rationed to ensure that we wouldn’t get dehydrated but at the same time wouldn’t run out of water.
By around 4:00 pm we had reached the halfway point at the top of pitch 6; this is where we ran into two people who were also climbing the same route as us but moving at a much slower pace. Luckily the were two trees that were growing on the cliff so we decided to take a small lunch break in the shade. Around a half hour later I shouted up the cliff to see if the two people had moved on yet; when I heard nothing we started climbing pitch 7. To my surprise the group ahead of us were still sitting at the top of pitch 7.
Turns out that the group had a 40 pound pack with them which was unusual for the single day climb on an easy route that could be easily terminated if needed. After another 10 mins of waiting we decided help them haul this pack of theirs up the wall. It was slow moving up to Pitch 8 and they had run out of water and our water was running low. By the time we had finally reached pitch 9 with all the people things had started to get worse for the group that we were assisting; fatigue and dehydration had brought them to the point of a mental break down.
At this point my dad and I decided to share the last bit of water we had with them and to turn around and bail on the last 3 pitches. It was a slow process moving back down the way we had come and try to keep the group calm; the sun and heat was really starting to take a toll on our bodies. Our lips were cracked and blistered and our mouths had quit producing saliva but we kept trudging on. A relief from the heat came around the time when the sun had set around the top of pitch 4 and from that time onward, we were descending down the cliff face into what seemed like a black abyss.
Finally, we were able to set foot on the ground and low and behold the friends of the group we helped had hiked to the base looking for their friends and they brought water we could all drink. We didn’t get back to the campsite until 1:00 am. The next day my dad and I decided to pack up and head to the coast because we were done climbing.
Here at EXAIR we like to bring that same kind of enthusiasm and perseverance to help you solve your compressed air issues. We will walk you step by step in getting you either the right part or solving any of your technical issues and won’t leave you high and dry.
If you want to talk about any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.