South Lake hiker rescued from Cave Rock
April 20, 2009
SOUTH LAKE TAHAOE ” A South Lake Tahoe man who was hiking near the top of Cave Rock became stuck and was rescued Sunday afternoon by the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District.
The fire crew performed the high-angle rappel rescue on the east face of Cave Rock at about 4:30 Sunday after the man, described as in his late teens or early 20s, became stuck on the cliff while hiking up.
A portion of Highway 50 was temporarily closed during the rescue.
The uninjured man was hiking and not climbing. Rock climbing is illegal at the Tahoe landmark which sits on Washoe tribal land.
“He wasn’t using any climbing gear and wasn’t rapelling. He was just out hiking and got stuck,” said Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Pat Brooks. “As far as my understanding, he didn’t really break any laws.”
Rescue workers belayed down to secure the man’s position after attaching ropes from above. A fire truck was parked on Highway 50 where a ladder was raised to meet him half way up the cliff.
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The ban on rock climbing at Cave Rock was enacted in 2003, and upheld in federal court in 2007.
Cave Rock, a volcanic outcropping along U.S. 50 between Glenbrook and Zephyr Cove on Lake Tahoe’s east shore, is considered sacred ground to the Washoe.
In a 2007 lawsuit, Access Fund, a climbing advocacy group, argued the ban was unconstitutional because it promotes the closing of public lands for religious purposes.
Critics of the ban have argued the rock formation was already drastically altered when highway tunnels were blasted through it in 1931 and 1957.