Campaign Coverage 2020

Man rescued, cited after rappelling into Yellowstone canyon

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 55-year-old Indiana man had to be rescued in Yellowstone National Park after he rappelled down a deep canyon, then was unable to climb back out after he left his rope to retrieve a backpack he dropped, park officials said.

Dave Christensen of Winamac was uninjured in the Jan. 6 incident, but he was cited for disorderly conduct and for illegally going off-trail in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, according to court records.

He has a court hearing scheduled for Feb. 3. A call made to a phone number listed for Christensen rang unanswered on Saturday.

Christensen was near the end of his 360-foot (110-meter) rope in the canyon, which is more than 1,200 feet (366 meters) deep in places, when he dropped his backpack, district park ranger Klint Powell told the Billings Gazette.

He slid down the canyon wall to retrieve it and then could not climb back up. A friend who was communicating with him by radio from the top confirmed he was not injured and then called for help after about two hours, Powell said.

A rescuer was lowered 800 feet (244 meters) to Christensen, and it took four hours to raise them both in the blowing snow and freezing temperatures, officials said.

“It was a long, slow haul to bring him back up,” Powell said. “The rescuer had to work their way up through really deep snow.”

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