Grand Canyon, Ariz. – With the busy Labor Day weekend around the bend, river rangers, search and rescue (SAR) personnel and the park’s inflatable Zodiac boat were flown by helicopter into the Grand Canyon National Park to rescue rafters stranded on Crystal Rapids. Crystal, one of the highest rated whitewater rapids in the Grand Canyon, has earned the expression “ABC” for “alive below Crystal” from veteran river runners.
Rescuers were deployed after the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report of a boat stuck on the rock garden at Crystal Rapid on Friday, August 6 shortly after 3:00 p.m.
One of two motorized rafts in a Western River Expeditions (Western) boat trip had become stranded at the top of the rock garden at Crystal Rapid. The Zodiac was deployed to rescue the boat’s passengers; and by 8:00 p.m., the 16 passengers and crew had been transported to shore where they set up camp. The other raft in the party continued on to Lower Tuna, a large campsite at GCMRC Mile 100.1.
Congestion in the great outdoors
The following morning, an Outdoors Unlimited oar-powered raft became stranded at the same location as rescuers were attempting retrieval of the Western raft. Rescuers already on the scene quickly rescued the boat’s operator and transported her to shore, where she rejoined the Outdoors Unlimited trip.
On Saturday, a separate Western river trip passed through the area and picked up half of the passengers from the stranded boat on the original trip. On Sunday, a raft sent by Western to take the place of the stranded raft arrived at Crystal Rapid, resupplied the Outdoors Unlimited trip which had lost gear when its boat flipped, then picked up the remaining passengers and crew from the original Western trip so that they could continue down the river and rejoin the rest of their group.
Once resupplied, the Outdoors Unlimited trip also continued down river. Their boat was freed late in the day on Sunday and tied to shore downriver of the rapid so that Outdoors Unlimited personnel could retrieve it at a later date.
Monday, August 9, 2010 at approximately 4:00 p.m., a full three days later, after unloading and partially de-rigging the raft to lighten its load, rangers were able to finally free the Western raft. The craft will be reloaded, rigged and maneuvered downstream to the take out at Pearce Ferry. Final operations and clean up at Crystal Rapid were expected to be completed by the end of the day Tuesday.
No injuries were reported from either of the two unfortunate boating parties.
Celebrate Labor Day by booking a whitewater river trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon now.
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