Climber hangs by hair, gear

January 17, 1994|By Arizona Republic

PHOENIX -- A woman dangled about 20 feet off the ground for about an hour when her hair became entangled in her rock climbing equipment.

"I was hanging in the air by my hair and my harness," Tracie Hemphill, 19, said yesterday. "I was screaming, yelling and crying. It hurt."

Ms. Hemphill, who said she had gone rock climbing only once before, was rappelling down a rock face on Camelback Mountain when her hair got caught yesterday morning.

To make matters worse, she said, well-meaning hikers heard her screaming and yelling and tried to help by tugging at her rope, hoping to free her.

"But each time they pulled, I slid down and my head hurt even more," Ms. Hemphill said.

Authorities said an area hiker apparently used a portable telephone to call for help.

A fire department rescuer, Jim Walter, rappelled to Ms. Hemphill, hooked her to his equipment and cut her line, freeing her hair.

Ms. Hemphill said that although it was "scary," she plans to go climbing again.

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