Hiker stranded on rock face

June 13, 1980
Tahquitz Rock

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By Jim Fairchild

Our first information about this mission was that a hiker was stranded near Idyllwild. As Pete Carlson and I drove van number two up the mountain we overheard messages to the effect that a man was stranded high on Tahquitz Rock. Upon arrival at Humber Park we found Walt Walker, Kevin Walker, Larry Roland (of RMRU) and five men from the Hemet team ready to begin the climb up to the base and around the backside of the rock. They departed, and as Pete and I readied ourselves, Jack Schnurr drove up, and the three of us were soon lumbering up the trail with appropriately heavy loads of ropes, radios, and hardware. Lunch Rock, the climbers' meeting place at the base of Tahquitz, was visible through the trickling sweat. Our ascent was halfway done, and now we went behind the rock to continue to the top. At a really flat, sheltered spot just below the summit we rested because we overheard our teammates' radio message that they were still trying to make voice contact with Charlie Felbraum, the stranded "hiker."

BLACK HOLE – RMRU member Larry Roland (foreground) guides Charlie Felbraum, as they are raised up the side of Tahquitz Rock. The inky darkness silhouetting them, is that of Humber Park 1,500 feet below. (photo by Jim Fairchild)Soon they had him, and we clambered up to the top, then down nearly a hundred feet on the west ridge of the rock to encounter their beehive of activity in setting up anchors and rigging. Larry Roland was to go over the edge to retrieve Charlie. Really, that's the fun part because he was lowered on a twisted-type goldline rope while I belayed on a kern-mantle Perion rope. About 150 feet down Larry reached Charlie, tied him on below with his goldline, then the men above raised the pair using a 4 to 1 mechanical advantage with pulleys, clamps, and other hardware. As they came over the edge I was able to take a picture, then the cliff-side adventure was over.

Now all we had to do was descend, very carefully, the 1600 feet elevation loss to Humber Park. This was a smooth, "textbook" operation, but we still marvel that Charlie's partner was able to finish the climb un-roped and report the stranding.