Rock climber stuck at 200ft rescued using a squirt of dish soap

Mountain range at sunset in Sedona, Arizona, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A rock climber whose leg got stuck in a gap was rescued thanks to some quick thinking and a squirt of ordinary dish soap.

On January 8, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a 25-year-old woman who had become stuck while climbing Queen Victoria Spire in Sedona, Arizona. She had just begun the second part of a multi-pitch climb when her leg got stuck in a crack, and she was stranded 200ft above the ground.

According to Climbing.com (opens in new tab), who spoke to a member of the rescue team, the woman was attempting to use an Alpine or 'dirty' knee (opens in new tab) – an inelegant but sometimes effective move.

As the Sheriff's Office explained in a Facebook post (opens in new tab), her climbing partners tried to free the woman's leg, but were unsuccessful, so a search and rescue team was dispatched with support from the local fire department and Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue. By this time night was drawing in, which made the high altitude rescue operation even more difficult.

Soap for a dirty knee

A medic was lowered by hoist to assess the situation and try some simple techniques to release the trapped limb. First, the medic used a piece of webbing to move the woman's pant leg out of the way. Then he worked a little dish soap around the area to reduce friction.

The medic was about to call in assistance from four other rescuers armed with a chisel, when the climber's limb suddenly popped free. She, her fellow climbers, and the rescue team were all airlifted off the rock to safety. By this point it was after 9pm and the climbers were suffering mild hypothermia, but were all uninjured.

"The climbers were evaluated by paramedics from Sedona Fire District and later refused additional medical care before leaving the scene," said the Sheriff's Office.

"This mission was complicated by operating in the dark on steep and complex terrain. The interagency relationships and training between the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, the Sedona Fire District, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue were instrumental in the successful response and outcome of this mission."

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).