Search and rescue crews led two climbers to safety early Saturday morning after they were stranded overnight in the Gate Buttress area of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Unified Police Department officials said.
The climbers, a 26-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, had ascended to the top of The Thumb climbing feature around 2 p.m. Friday, but headed in the wrong direction as they repelled down and became stuck on a ledge after running out of rope, UPD detective Kevin Mallory said.
With no way of returning up or heading further down, the climbers reached out to friends before calling 911 around 11:30 p.m. Their phones were both below 20% battery and the pair didn’t have cold weather clothing, water or a flashlight with them.
UPD’s Canyon Unit and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Crews responded to the scene. A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter was called out to fly rescue members to the climbers around 2:45 a.m. Saturday, but the helicopter quickly returned to base due to stormy weather conditions.
Mallory said that a group of about 20 search and rescue members worked their way up the cliff face and contacted the climbers around 5 a.m. The volunteer crews left anchors for repelling on the cliff and the climbers safely made their way down before 8 a.m. Saturday morning, Mallory said.
The hikers did not sustain injuries, though Mallory said they were both “cold and hungry.”
Mallory recommended that people recreating in the outdoors ensure that their phones are fully charged and that they bring an additional power bank.
“Nobody plans to get stuck in a place like that,” Mallory said. “But you kind of have to prepare to get stuck, just in case you do.”