On a recent Sunday morning, I awoke to the sound of a helicopter — not an unusual sound in West Sedona — except this one wasn’t just flying by, it was hovering around the base of Thunder Mountain.
One look out the window confirmed what I had already suspected, it wasn’t a “tour” helicopter on a sightseeing flight. This was clearly a Department of Public Safety helicopter on a search and rescue mission.
Soon after, the sad story became known — 65-year-old Douglas Sims, who had reportedly climbed the mountain several hundred times, fell 60 feet to his death while climbing near the peak.
The takeaway lesson? If a fall can happen to Sims; it can happen to anyone.
I know, because it could have happened to me.
Shortly after moving to Sedona, I climbed Thunder Mountain for the first time.
I was so jazzed about making it to the top that I decided to get cute and climb down a more challenging route.
Big mistake. I got myself into one of those tough spots — a ledge — that people who end up needing a rescue suddenly find themselves.
I’d heard of people needing to be rescued from Thunder Mountain, along with a stern warning that “you don’t ever want to be that person.”
For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 7 issue of the Camp Verde Journal or Cottonwood Journal Extra.