Everyday Hero II: 5 Extraordinary Rescues by Ordinary Climbers

Climbers just like you who rose to the occasion and saved a life

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of our print edition.

The Diamond Longs Peak Rock Climbing Rescue

Illustration: Brett Affrunti

Last year we shared the stories of five ordinary climbers thrust into desperate situations in which they ended up saving a life. When it comes to climbing, it turns out, the well of heroism is deep. In fact, climbers may be particularly well-disposed to handle intense crises.

“In the classes I teach, I generally compare the calm and focus needed during an emergency to the focus that climbers have when making a difficult move,” says Bryan Simon, a registered nurse and co-owner of Vertical Medicine Resources. “The concentration and focus on the immediate needs of the patient are directly comparable to what we all do every day while on a route—just a different task.”

Here are five more true stories of extraordinary saves—feats of strength and determination—and their inherent lessons.

Part 1: Rescue Carry
What do you do if you find an injured solo climber halfway up a 1,600-foot face? In the 1930s, the only option was a high-elevation piggyback ride. Read the full story.

Part 2: True Teamwork
In backcountry climbing, the approach can be just as hazardous as the climb. Three men had met because of a common interest in new routes in the obscure back corners of Pinnacles National Park, southeast of San Francisco. Before the day ended, each would help save another in extraordinary ways. Read the full story.

Part 3: The King of Spotters
We spot boulder problems. Sometimes we spot climbers before they clip their first piece of pro. Now imagine spotting a climber falling 60 feet. Read the full story.

Part 4: Rapid Response
In a crisis, decisive action may be the difference between life and death. Sometimes only a bystander is prepared to take that step. Read the full story.

Part 5: Bullish Determination 
Where do you find superhuman strength? If someone you love is utterly dependent on your efforts, sometimes you discover it’s already within you. Read the full story.