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February 2013 a fun challenging run turned into an Oops moment when Doug O's Jeep tire slipped off a ledge and flopped on its side. It was a gentle, slow rollover which was a good thing for his two passengers. Reg was right behind him and was able to winch the Jeep up in no time at all. Unfortunately, Doug had not put the rig in gear and when righted it slid right into Reg's Jeep slightly injuring the winch which Reg fixed the next day. [Ed]
A tricky spot on Blind Man's Bluff in March 2011, found our club member Paull in a flop-over situation. It's one of those moments we hate! Just a bit heavy on the throttle at the wrong spot and all of a sudden you're on your side. It was a good winching lesson very successfully carried out by club members. Being in a tight narrow canyon, the only option was to get one of the Jeeps on the road above to use his winch line with a long strap attached from way up high on the steep hill on the driver's side. The rescue rig was backed up by another Jeep acting as an anchor. Everyone was cautious and very professional with the outcome being a huge success. No injuries, except pride of course, and some damage to Paull's prize-winning Jeep, yup, Paull has a lot of first place ribbons for his beautiful Jeep. Great job everyone. [Ed]
Report Phil Strittmatter - photos Bill Hammond, Joan Beck
     In the latter part of 2012 we had two rescues in about the same area of the club's adopted trail the Sleeping Princess. No photos were taken of the earlier one, but we did get this one. Over the years there've been many incidents (of which we are aware) of vehicles (trucks, jeeps, ATVs, etc.) rolling, flopping, or sliding off the road. It is a difficult trail with signs at both entrances warning of possible vehicle damage.This stock truck should never have attempted the trail.
     We got a call from the BLM saying they'd been contacted by a fellow whose truck was precariously off the side of the mountain, and could we help? A couple of phone calls possied up Doug O., Bob S., Bill H. and Joan and me (Phil), plus Steve, the survivor/victim. A very large anchoring boulder high on the hill, fifty feet or so of rope and straps securing a snatch block and two Jeeps in tandem from the uphill side were able to winch the rear wheels of the F-150 onto the road. The recalcitrant front wheels and a low front tire, however, seemed to have developed a love affair with the downhill side of the mountain until coerced to their proper place by the third Jeep in front using a chain fall. We had let Steve know that if it looked too dangerous we would not attempt the rescue. It was pretty iffy. It took about 4 hours with Doug and Bob struggling with rope and straps up and down the very steep hillside. Not an easy task although thankfully it was a successful recovery. When not busy with the rescue Bill H. had time to take the photos. No one was hurt, no vehicle damage. Steve's rig had been stranded for two weeks; had been vandalized; had been pushed further off the narrow road and the gas tank had been drained leaving just enough to get him home. To do such mischief depicts a very low class of individual(s) - shame, shame!
     September '08. Above, this is a challenging chunk of slick rock that is very difficult to climb, especially for long-wheel-based rigs. There is a difficult go-around just to the right, which, with tail between our legs, many of us must take; either that, or turn around. On this day, two of us had tried to negotiate it without success. Most, after climbing high on the drivers side slide off at that particular point. Fortunately, no injuries for Dan or his ever patient side-kick, Karl. We made a lot of mistakes on the recovery. Can you believe we had not put a weight over the winch lines??? Our club is normally a stickler for that important safety procedure - on this day we goofed. The recovery was a long, involved and difficult one, taking close to three hours.
     First the rig had to be dragged backward from the obstacle, where the roll bar then decided to hook behind a point on the bedrock. The operation came to a screeching halt! Hi-Lift jacks and a winch did the trick getting the rig, stilll upside down, back to where there was room to eventually roll it upright. The Hi-Lifts were not tall enough, so Karl was busy attempting to build platforms using rock as flat as he could find for the jacks - his efforts turned out to be unstable though, with the Hi-Lifts collapsing a few times. Finally, the jacks were able to lift the rig up a few feet, and a tow strap was attached to the 'tractor' with six of the fellows climbing up a short, steep, loose hill with strap in tow to see if they could pull it upright as the guys on the jacks kept trying to lift it higher. It was teetering on the edge of being successful, when one of the jacks collapsed and the rig landed right back where it had been. Thankfully, the guys on the jacks jumped out of the way in time, but the fellows on the hill were all yanked down, some landing smack on one of our desert charmers, a cat claw. Quite a few scratched and bloodied limbs came out of that tumble, but brave souls that they were, no one complained.
     We then came up with the idea of using two winches. Jim's rig was on the road about 30 feet up and an equal distance away; JJBlue was standing by ready to help, with Ken and his Jeep in back of her as an anchor. Then, using both winches, we managed to skid the 'tractor' around for a better recovery angle. It was a well directed operation by the crew, with both rigs winching at the same time. Once the 'tractor' was re-positioned, we used a tree saver around the base of a juniper and a snatch block with Ken still anchoring JJBlue. Very quickly, the John Deere tractor was lifted and then it dropped down on all fours. After checking the 'tractor' and adding fluids, Dan was able to drive it all the way out.
A few basic thoughts from Dan:
1) Safety first. No rescue is completely safe but it is easy to get caught up in the event.
2) Proper use of winches and straps. We did okay in this area correcting as we went.
3) Two winches accomplished the job safer and faster than one.
4) Hi-Lift jacks are useful and dangerous. They are very difficult to use safely in uneven terrain.
     First, turn off the engine, then make sure everyone is okay, evacuate the rig getting everyone completely clear of all danger. Have a group meeting to develop a recovery strategy. That 15 minutes may be time well spent if everyone can hear the discussions and contribute as they see fit. This is a good time to inventory what equipment is available. If the first strategy fails, it may be wise to start all over again with another meeting. This sounds like a lot of meetings but it also allows time to calm down and make better strategic decisions. Keep in mind the driver and/or passenger may be a bit dazed.
Report Joan Beck, photos Joan and Phil Strittmatter
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Tom in his brand new, home built, extreme rock buggy, gives the slick rock a try - couldn't manage it though. The recovery was successful - usually Tom and son Bud can roll it over with ease. This time it took a bit more effort from the gang.This little chunk of challenge has since been named: "Evil Nasty Black Rock" by Joan (me) since I haven't yet been able to conquer it. Every one has been kind enough to attribute it to JJBlue's long wheel base. Frustratingly, short wheel based vehicles seem to have little problems with it.[Ed]
Below photo. This was a very difficult recovery, due mainly to the terrain, no possible vehicle access on either side of the high rocky walls and the inability to get another vehicle close enough to be able to get the rig safely back on all fours. The effort was eventually successful, with the owner, after a few repairs, able to drive the Jeep back to the trailhead where it was put on a friend's trailer. We're happy to report no serious injuries - some pretty bad bruises though. Don't forget to strap everything down tightly in your vehicle - no flying objects, PLEASE! Above all, it's safety first - assess each situation with great care, and basically agree that you will have only one person in charge of the operation. Suggestions should be welcome by the one in charge, but avoid confusion at all costs. Winching can be a hazardous procedure requiring full concentration! [Ed]
Happily, the following was an easy winching procedure righting the vehicle in no time - after, of course, we had all taken our photo moments. Ken, without hesitation, blamed his wife and navigator, Dorothy, for the entire rollover. You see, Dorothy was at home entertaining their families who had arrived in Bullhead City for a visit. We all concurred - obviously it was your fault Dorothy! Even though a wee bit shaken, Ken was able to finish the trail and drive home with one of our new members following him. A note: During the rollover, the first thought Ken had, was to turn off the ignition - that was done before he had finished rolling! Very wise move, Ken! [Ed]
Oh, my! So embarrassing when this happens. A group of wheelers from Verde Valley contacted us for a Sleeping Princess run a couple of years ago. No one else joined us from our club, so I didn't get the chicken, although well deserved. I had taken the same line probably sixty times; up high on the driver's side with a quick right turn. On this run Phil was riding with me, and the additional weight was a bit more than JJBlue could handle. We could feel her beginning to roll - Phil said: "Here we go!" Ever so slowly she plopped on to her side. Usually Phil is out spotting someone else - so it was a very good lesson on how a bit of added weight can affect the vehicles balance. First thing to do, ignition off, put the vehicle in gear and make sure we're both okay (we were). Everything in back was well secured but the center console wasn't locked and a bit of stuff flew out. One of the guest vehicles squeezed by us to get in front to help; the others were behind us. The Verde Valley group jumped right in and got the recovery going before we could even think straight. I've added a white mark near the top center of the first photo. This fellow was climbing up above to find a boulder or strong enough tree trunk to latch onto. Done. Multiple winch lines were run to expedite a great recovery. JJBlue only suffered some injured pride and a new dent was added to the existing ones on the passenger side panel. We drove on out and apart from that little incident had an enjoyable run with new friends. [Ed]
That's all it takes - a fraction of a second and your rig could be over on its lid! One little misplaced tire; a moment of distraction; a poor line and suddenly you've lost control and you're upside down, hopefully without damage to your body, your passenger and your $$$ vehicle! Always remember Rule #1, never go in the outback without a couple of vehicles tagging along. In this particular case we were at the 2010 Desert Splash (a terrific event in Parker, AZ) and there were plenty of very knowledgeable, experienced and willing-to-help wheelers all volunteering their expertise. One fellow took control of the winching operations, which was a good thing, and in no time at all with the use of superb winching and strapping techniques the Jeep was back on all fours. At this gnarly section of President's Choice, there should have been a spotter available to assist those not familiar with the trail - lesson learned, when in doubt never hesitate to ask for help from a spotter, there's no shame in asking guys, it's the smart thing to do! We gals have an advantage there, we'll ask! Also, whether you have a hard or a soft top, make sure everything inside is tied down! Everything loose inside can fly around with explosive force. Ray and his rig were strapped out to the road and eventually he trailered his badly damaged baby home. We saw his Jeep a few days ago, it looks brand new. We do believe that our buddy Ray will be back at the 2011 "Splash" that is, if he doesn't have a race scheduled for that weekend. Do you notice anything wrong in these photos? I'll bet you do! Too many bystanders standing way too close to the winch lines. Very dangerous. [Ed]