Tomales Point Rescue April 4, 2016

July 25, 2016 Posted by: M. Hastings

On Monday, April 4, 2016, at approximately 5:00pm Marin County Emergency Communication Center received a 911 call about an individual that had taken a 15-20 foot fall to the rocks below Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore.

The individual fell while attempting to scale the sea cliffs located at Tomales Point. The cliffs in and around Point Reyes are incredibly unstable. In a follow up interview the individual stated that he did not realize the cliffs were so unstable until he began his descent down to the rocks below. The descent was completed safely. It was on the ascent when the individual got into trouble. While climbing the unstable face of the cliff, the individual did their best to equally distribute their weight while climbing in order to not dislodge any of the footholds or handholds. 15 to 20 feet into the ascent the individual realized he was in trouble when a foothold started to give way. The individual attempted to compensate the lack of a foothold by relying on his handhold. In quick succession both holds gave out completely and the individual fell to the rocks below. Luckily a friend, who was still on the trail above, was able to call for help. Fortunately, Tomales Point is one of the few areas in Point Reyes National Seashore that affords excellent cell coverage.

Based on the location of the incident it was determined that a Helicopter Rescue would be the safest and most efficient rescue method. California Highway Patrol Helicopter H32, was requested and they responded. In the event of the helicopter being unable to complete the rescue contingency plans were set in motion for both land and water based rescues with the assistance of Marin County Fire and National Park Service Rangers. Luckily, Once H32 arrived on scene they determined they would able to hoist the individual into the helicopter and fly them to the waiting ambulance at Dillon Beach.Once the individual was rescued they were transported to the hospital with significant injuries.

Lessons Learned

1.The sea cliffs in and around Point Reyes are inherently unstable and dangerous. Many visitors have been injured or killed in the areas of the cliffs. Visitors are reminded to take extra care and remain vigilant when hiking above or below sea cliffs. Climbing on the cliffs is not advised due to their unstable nature.

Point Reyes, Search and Rescue, PSAR, Preventative Search and Rescue, Tomales Point Trail, Tomales Point

Last updated: July 25, 2016

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