According to the NPS Morning Report, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park rangers and Black Canyon Volunteer Search and Rescue Team members responded to two separate incidents over the Fourth of July weekend.
On Thursday, July 3rd, a 35-year-old Minnesota man who was backpacking with a friend on the South Rim’s Warner Route stepped off a 16-inch rock and broke his lower leg. The pair attempted to splint the lower leg with a trekking pole and a fishing rod, but the steep, loose terrain of Black Canyon made self-rescue impossible.
On Saturday, July 5th, a visitor at South Rim’s Chasm View overlook reported hearing a whistle and cries for help. Rangers on the South Rim were able to spot an individual toward the bottom of the North Rim’s S.O.B. Gully.
A climbing ranger hiked down to the 28-year-old hiker, who had fallen approximately 10 feet and suffered a compound leg fracture. Rangers and a paramedic spent the night with him to provide care, while a scree evacuation was staged for first light the following morning.
Black Canyon Volunteer Search and Rescue, park personnel, Western State Colorado University Search and Rescue, and West Elk Search and Rescue used 11 main and belay line stations of approximately 130 vertical feet each to raise the man a total of 1400 vertical feet. He was then transported via Tri State Care Flight to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
All the inner canyon routes in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are infamous for loose rock, steep drop-offs and abundant poison ivy.