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Weather-hampered rescue underway after climber injured in fall in southern Utah

The “super blue blood moon” in eclipse as seen from above Snow Canyon State Park in Washington County on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018.
The “super blue blood moon” in eclipse as seen from above Snow Canyon State Park in Washington County on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

IVINS, Washington County — Washington County Search and Rescue launched a complex rescue Tuesday evening after a man suffered serious injuries while rock climbing in Snow Canyon State Park.

The man, in his early 20s, was rock climbing with his girlfriend on a mountain at the south end of the park when he fell roughly 25 feet, according to Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Cashin.

Rescue crews responded at about 5 p.m. and were with the man Tuesday evening. However, a combination of high winds and rugged terrain in Snow Canyon complicated efforts and Cashin said the helicopter originally called to assist in the rescue was unable to land.

“We’re concerned with the seriousness of his injuries and the time it’s going to take to get him off,” Cashin said. “He’s in some really rough country.”

A Utah Highway Patrol helicopter equipped with a hoist was responding Tuesday night, while high angle rescue crews were setting up a highline system — a rescue technique used in difficult or exposed terrain — as an alternative in case the high winds persist, Cashin said.

“We can’t guarantee the helicopter can get him off so we’re still working two different angles on it right now,” he said.

The man’s name and extent of his injuries were not immediately released, although Cashin said they were “potentially serious.” He said it could take up to four hours before the climber is out of the canyon.