It was a long tumble into the Crater Lake caldera, landing a mere 100 feet above the chilly water on a snow-covered bank.
The call came in Sunday afternoon: a 22-year-old man had slipped and fallen more than 1,200 feet. He was wearing only a T-shirt, skinny jeans and Vans shoes. The man was cold and injured.
One of the rescuers called the incident “epic,” mostly because the man survived a fall that has killed others in the past.
National Park rangers came to the rescue first, rappelling about 600 feet before they spotted the man.
“He was really pretty far down the caldera,” park spokeswoman Marsha McCabe told The Mail Tribune.
Because the technical rappel was taking so long, rangers asked for assistance from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team and Air Rescue Systems.
A helicopter crew responded but the steepness of the terrain, the wind and the height of the trees meant they couldn’t lower the chopper very low.
Rescuers had 279 feet of cable to hoist the man to safety - they used 273 feet.
“It’s actually amazing that it was a rescue and not a recovery,” said Bob Cockell, vice president of Air Rescue Systems.
Because of the length of the cable, it took rescuers two minutes to pull the man into the helicopter as they flew over the lake.
He was then flown to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for unknown injuries.
A video of the rescue showed the man’s face and arms covered in blood.
Rangers said they’re shocked the man survived the fall and being in cold temperatures for so long.
“We’ve had fatalities occur from falling into the caldera,” Chief Ranger Kean Mihata told KDRV.com. “It’s closed for a reason, it’s a dangerous place to be.”
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653