Rope rescue saves dangling climber near Stoner

Dan Pauley displays the culprit piece of equipment that failed and left him hanging. Enlarge photo

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Dan Pauley displays the culprit piece of equipment that failed and left him hanging.

A rescue effort ended successfully Tuesday after an equipment problem left a climber dangling by rope about 75 feet above the ground.

Dressed in a red helmet, green pants and a dark sweat shirt, Dan Pauley could be seen hanging from the sandstone cliff face Tuesday above Colorado Highway 145 near Stoner.

The 52-year-old martial artist and firearms instructor had been rappelling from an overhang when his rope jammed, leaving him swinging freely and unable to touch the rock face.

When his legs began to go numb, the experienced climber tied a knot in the rope so he was able to stand up in his harness, shake his arms and maintain blood circulation.

Rescue workers shouted at the man, asking about his water supply.

I figure dehydration is kind of in the fine print, as far as my problems go, he shouted back.

Eventually, rescue workers were able to lower additional lines over the cliff, rappel down to Pauley, and clip the mans harness into another rope.

Rico Fire/Rescue member Mike White held on to Pauley, and the two men were lowered slowly to the ground just as wind gusts began to pick up.

Pauley said the rope slipped up a figure-eight device and jammed, leaving him dangling for about four hours.

After today, Im never using this thing again, he said, holding up the blue metal device.

Other such devices feature protrusions to prevent rope slippage.

Other than numbness in his legs and feet, medics checked out Pauley and said he was not injured. He walked away from the scene in good spirits and was even able to salvage his climbing rope, which he coiled up.

I feel like Ive been straddling a barbed-wire fence, Pauley said.

reidw@cortezjournal.com

While EMS personnel check out the climber, Preston Vialpando, from Cortez Search and Rescue, lowers himself to the ground. Enlarge photo

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

While EMS personnel check out the climber, Preston Vialpando, from Cortez Search and Rescue, lowers himself to the ground.

After releasing stranded climber Dan Pauley from his rope, Mike White hangs on as the two are lowered to the ground by rescue workers on top. Enlarge photo

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

After releasing stranded climber Dan Pauley from his rope, Mike White hangs on as the two are lowered to the ground by rescue workers on top.

Rico Fire Department volunteer Mike White lowers himself down to rescue Dan Pauley on the cliff above Stoner. Enlarge photo

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Rico Fire Department volunteer Mike White lowers himself down to rescue Dan Pauley on the cliff above Stoner.

Climber Dan Pauley dangles about 75 feet in the air after an equipment failure on his climbing gear. He was stranded about four hours before rescue workers could retrieve him. Enlarge photo

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Climber Dan Pauley dangles about 75 feet in the air after an equipment failure on his climbing gear. He was stranded about four hours before rescue workers could retrieve him.

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