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Teen Injured on Phoenix's Camelback Mountain After Rappelling Fall

An 18-year-old girl had to be airlifted off of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix on Tuesday after she fell while rappelling from the Praying Monk formation.

"She had some broken bones and couldn't get down the mountain, and we flew her off," said Phoenix Fire Department Captain Reda Bigler.

The teen, whose identity wasn't disclosed, had been rappelling off the backside of the Monk, which is the typical descent made from the 100-foot-tall formation following a successful summit climb.

According to a write-up on MountainProject.com, "The Praying Monk has probably been climbed by more Phoenix beginners than any other formation in central Arizona." Rappelling, for the uninitiated, involves descending from a rope using a friction device, like an ATC, attached to a climbing harness.

Rescuers received the call for help at 11:15 a.m. Bigler said she couldn't speculate on what caused the fall.

"She was with some friends ... and fell an undisclosed distance," she said. The teen was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital in "serious but stable condition."

An ABC-15 (KNXV-TV) news chopper caught some footage of the fire department's response.

Bigler says the winter rescue season on Camelback is winding down. The mountain is the site of frequent injuries because of the large number of people who hike to the 2,704-foot summit each year. Dehydration is often a factor: A 22-year-old woman was rescued from Camelback's east-side Cholla Trail on Saturday.

Earlier this month, a Queen Creek man claimed he witnessed another man save a woman from falling off a cliff edge at the summit by reaching out and grabbing one of her ankles as she fell. The incredible tale received wide Internet attention.

The city of Phoenix began a new hiker-safety campaign last year following the deaths of four people on the mountain in 2014 and the dehydration death of an English visitor last July.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern