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Smith Rock climber injured, prompting Deschutes County SO Search and Rescue effort

Smith Rock State Park
KTVZ file
Smith Rock State Park

TERREBONNE, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Redmond woman was injured when she struck her head while climbing at Smith Rock State Park on Sunday morning, prompting a rescue effort, authorities said.

Shortly after 11 a.m., a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue volunteer climbing in the area of the Dihedrals informed a Special Services deputy he had come upon an injured climber needing assistance on a route known as “Darkness at Noon,” according to Deputy Donny Patterson, assistant SAR coordinator.

They learned from another member of the injured woman's climbing party that the 42-year-old woman slid down a climbing rope and struck her head as she was climbing back up, Patterson said.

The SAR member stayed on the scene to assist until more help arrived. Due to the climber’s location, a wheeled litter rescue was required, Patterson said.

A Special Services deputy headed to the park as other SAR volunteers were called out to assist, and 10 responded.

When the SAR members arrived, the medical team began caring for and preparing the injured climber tor transport by wheeled litter. The SAR teams and a state park employee began moving the climber down through some rough terrain, eventually reaching the canyon floor and footbridge, Patterson said. She was then brought out of the canyon to a waiting Redmond Fire & Rescue ambulance.

“This was a team effort,” Patterson wrote in a news release, “and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Redmond Fire and the Oregon State Parks for their assistance in this rescue.”

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    1. I was curios about the serious injury going up too. Oddly it seems like the more difficult the sport climb and the more experienced the climber the less likely they will be wearing a helmet at Smith and elsewhere. I wear one when leading partly because it is not uncommon for me to hit my head on things going up but nowhere near the force to cause a traumatic injury. A big benefit is to keep me from getting scabs on my head. At a lot of rock climbing crags not wearing helmets is really dumb because of they have more rock fall potential than Smith. Being a former free climber you no doubt probably know that. Just last month I was Diablo Canyon NM where a dense chunk of basalt about double the size and shape of an axe head landed without me seeing it two feet away. The climber 50 feet up was unaware of having knocked anything off.

      1. Wearing a helmet when not in the lead is a no-brainer. I can’t count the number of times that I have had rocks (sometimes 40 lbs!) sail by me. Some rock absolutely cannot be predicted; I mean it can be fine one day, and deadly the next. Luckily, knock wood, never had a significant injury. As lead, I admit that I used to not wear a helmet, but then I realized that I was the one setting the example for my less-experienced group. I still hate wearing a helmet, though, getting hot, sometimes blocking my view, etc etc

    2. If you’re a former (any style) climber, you know damn well rocks fall. Sometimes on heads. Smith Rock is not known for its stability nor cohesiveness is it? No, I don’t think so. And lets imagine, a helmeted climber takes a fall, lead or follow, and they catch their foot. You could invert and slam your protected head hard enough to need rescue. Logic. Why does nobody employ it in this damn comments section? Assuming this isnt just a snarky troll, yes, most climbers wear helmets now. Id say 75% or more.

  1. I see a lot of stories about smith rock injuries and rescues. I realize this is a small percentage of all people using smith rock. Maybe about 1%? Using the logic that we do for Covid response, shouldn’t we shut smith rock down and have emergency mandates to stop people from accessing it?

    1. Well someone falling even to their death at Smith is unlikely to cause anyone else in the state to also die or hurt themselves in the near future. About the only similarity might be requiring climbers to wear helmets to lesson the impact on search and rescue and emergency rooms. But that would get a lot of resistance like seat belts rumpling peoples dresses was a big reason not to wear those. A helmet might rumple a perfectly good dirt bag Rastafarian hairdo or not look cool on a shirtless climber stud unless somehow they could be shirtless with a hoodie pulled up over their helmet. It’s a thing. So just like wearing a mask is way uncool and un-American if you are a real freedom loving republican it would be a tough sell.

    2. @Oregone- You clearly do not understand statistics…. Or the chain reaction/impact of spreadable diseases. I would suggest that you keep your delusional and irrelevant “comparisons” to yourself.

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