300-Foot Whizzer


Why anyone would stand at the edge of a cliff to pee, while drunk is beyond my understanding. Perhaps it’s due to the amount of alcohol in the person’s body, clouding their judgement.

But that was the call Dad and I got one early evening. It sent us scrambling to the fire station and southbound on Highway 101 to the south side of the Klamath River, where the old highway used to run.

It took us nearly half-an-hour to arrive at the spot where a man had allegedly fallen after getting up on a stone wall with the intent of taking a whizz over the edge. We drove fairly slow because we didn’t want to miss the person who was there to flag us down.

One of the first things we did after parking, was to go to the wall and look over the edge. It was so dark, that neither of us could see beyond a few feet.

Dad pulled out a large lantern and shined it down the cliff side and still we couldn’t see anything. We were planning to wait for the National Park’s high angle rescue team, but because it was starting to get cold and a delay in first aid could cost the man his life, it was decided I’d rapple down to him.

While I secured my harness and pulled on my first-responders backpack, Dad tied a line off the front of the rescue truck. It took me only a few seconds to rotate the line through by carabiners and set myself for the first step over the wall.

In less than 30 seconds I dropped into the darkness, passed several branches from close standing trees and to a semi-flat surface. It took me a few more seconds to find the victim as he was jus’ a few yards further down the slope.

Much to my surprise he was conscious and talking. His chief complaint was having pissed on himself as he fell, though I could tell by the mangled shape of his legs, he had worse problems.

It took us two hours to secure him in a litter and hand crank the man to the old highway. I was on belay and therefore the last to leave the site.

By the time I reached the top of the old stone wall, the ambulance had already left with our patient. Later I would find out, while he was in a double-hip cast for three months the man would eventually walk again.

But still I wonder — why the fascination with peeing off the side of a cliff?

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