Smith Rock hiker falls 150 feet, prompts challenging rescue

Minnesota man, 23, recovering at St. Charles Bend

TERREBONNE, Ore. - (Update: Sheriff's office identifies hiker, gives details; adds gallery)

A Minnesota man fell and tumbled about 150 feet while hiking at Smith Rock State Park Friday afternoon, prompting a lengthy, technical rope rescue effort that lasted until midnight, authorities said. He was listed in fair condition Saturday at St. Charles Bend, a house supervisor said.

Shortly before 3:30 p.m. Friday, a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Special Services/Search and Rescue deputy was dispatched to the popular hiking and climbing spot on a report of someone yelling, Sgt. Nathan Garibay said.

While responding, more information was provided that helped narrow down the man’s location and indicated that he might be injured. The hiker later was identified as Ian Rapp, 23, of Woodbury, Minnesota.

Shortly before 4 p.m., Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office SAR was activated to the scene. A total of 22 SAR volunteers and two SAR deputies responded, along with three personnel from Redmond Fire & Rescue and Oregon State Parks, Garibay said.

SAR volunteers and a deputy hiked to the area below where Rapp was believed to be located, in the area of Voyage of the Cow Dog, a climbing route in the Picnic Lunch Wall climbing area.

Garibay said responders determined that the first rescuers would have to reach Rapp’s location from below, while others went to the top of the formation to scout a location and establish a rope rescue system.

Four rescuers climbed a multi-pitch route to a spot above Rapp, then traveled laterally to a location where they could rappel down to Rapp’s location, Garibay said.

The first rescuer, a SAR medic, reached Rapp around 6:15 p.m. Garibay said he was not in an area where climbers normally go and appeared to have fallen and tumbled about 150 feet in an area of loose and unstable rock.

Rapp appeared to have serious injuries and was “in a very precarious position,” Garibay said in a news release.

A technical rope system was Rigged above Rapp, a process complicated by the terrain and nightfall. He was raised to the top of the formation and taken by wheeled litter down the Misery Ridge Trail to a waiting Life Flight helicopter, which left around midnight to fly Rapp to the Bend hospital.

“The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office appreciates the excellent relationships with Redmond Fire and Rescue, Oregon State Parks, and Life Flight,” Garibay wrote.

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