2 men rescued after trying to climb Pa. mountain


 
 

David Templeton Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | | Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Two men who tried to climb Mount Washington near the Wabash Tunnel found themselves stranded on a ledge when one of them weakened and could not finish the climb.

City paramedics, firefighters and police closed the Wabash Tunnel, McArdle Roadway and a park-and-ride lot near the tunnel to undertake a difficult rescue of the men stranded on an almost cliff-face covered with trees.

The rescue continued for more than six hours and included ladder trucks and other equipment, city officials said. At 9:36 p.m., rescuers were able to secure the men and pull them upward to McArdle Roadway.

About 10 p.m., police officials were not prepared to comment on whether the men would face any charges for their unsuccessful adventure. The men had not yet been identified by police.

Port Authority spokesman Bob Grove said his agency was called initially because it was thought the men were climbing Mount Washington near the Monongahela Incline.

But they began the ascent closer to the Wabash Tunnel.

When one of the climbers became ill and weak, the men used a cell phone to call 911 shortly after 6 p.m.

Realizing it was not on or near their right of way, Port Authority officials contacted city fire, emergency and police officials to undertake the rescue.

"It's pretty steep," Mr. Grove said. "What I know about the Mon Incline, climbing up or down is not something I'd want to attempt, even in broad daylight on a summer day. We've had people climbing near the Mon Incline, and it's not a good idea at any time of the year."

He said the rescue required considerable effort.

"Even for professionals, this is very precarious. Unfortunately we have to go through this every now and then," he said. "It is a very dangerous thing to do."

City officials said they are called about once a year to conduct a rescue on the face of Mount Washington, but usually it involves people attempting to trek down.

In January, two Duquesne University students were charged with defiant trespass and public drunkenness after being rescued from their failed attempt to climb down Mount Washington.

They told police they had missed the Mon Incline's last trip of the night, so they took the shortcut. They summoned help around 2 a.m. and had to be rescued by a ladder truck. Both were treated for hypothermia at Mercy Hospital.

Back in 1995, two men tried to take a steep shortcut from McArdle Roadway.

One tumbled several hundred feet down the steep hillside and sustained head and spinal injuries.

The second descended to look for his friend and ended up trapped on the hillside 80 feet from the bottom, clinging to a tree to protect himself from a perilous plunge.

That same year, two University of Pittsburgh students in their 20s also tried to descend Mount Washington on foot and had to be rescued by firefighters when they became stuck on a ledge about 40 feet from the bottom.

At the time, Sgt. Ed Eckle said, "God gave them brains; they should use those."




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