CODY, Wyo. — The Park County Search and Rescue Unit airlifted a stranded hiker from the Cabin Creek drainage Sunday morning after he had spent two days trapped on top of a rock face in a straight-walled area of the canyon.
The hiker had become trapped when he ascended a rock wall anticipating that he could hike out once he reached the top, according to a news release from C. Lance Mathess, public information officer with the Park County Sheriff’s Office.
Allen Arrington, age 49, of Tucson, Ariz., was camped with his wife, Veora “Peaches” Arrington, at the Cabin Creek trailhead, located at the end of the South Fork Road in southwestern Park County on Friday, when he set out on a day hike. Arrington, an experienced hiker and rock climber hiked approximately 1.5 miles up the Cabin Creek when he came to an area of the drainage that was inaccessible on foot.
In an attempt to go around this area, he ascended a sheer rock face some 300 feet high anticipating he could hike out from there. Once up the rock face, Arrington became “rimrocked” on the wall. Rimrocked is a common term used in climbing which means ascending up to a spot from which you are surprisingly too frightened or otherwise unable to descend, according to Mathess.
The Park County Emergency Communications Center received the first call at noon on Saturday. Arrington’s wife who was in constant contact with him via portable radio, reported that her husband was trapped on the rock face. She was able to give dispatchers the location’s exact geo-coordinates. She further reported that Arrington was exhausted but otherwise uninjured. SAR was immediately activated and responded to the trailhead.
However, Arrington had positioned himself in an area that made it impossible for ground units to extricate him. The extreme rugged nature of the terrain combined with approaching adverse weather put the safety of the ground units in question.
A UH60 Black Hawk helicopter from Charlie Company 5-159, Wyoming Army National Guard, which was on a training mission near Lovell was requested to assist in the rescue. The helicopter arrived Saturday evening, but was too late to attempt a rescue before dark. Therefore, Arrington was forced to spend a second night on the rock face.
At 7 a.m., Sunday the helicopter took off from Yellowstone Regional Airport en route to the staging area at the trailhead. After a short reconnaissance flight the Black Hawk flight crew lowered a SAR member to Arrington. Utilizing a double harness, both Arrington and the SAR member were airlifted from the scene and back to the staging area at 9 a.m.
Once again, Park County Sheriff Scott Steward praised the efforts of the SAR Unit. “I cannot say it often enough,” commented Steward. “These folks are volunteers who are ready at a moment’s notice to risk their own safety in service to others. We are fortunate to have them serving our residents and visitors.”
Arrington was examined by the medical staff of the SAR team which included a doctor and a paramedic and was pronounced in good health. He required no further medical attention.