HISTORY IS COOL: 90 years ago

Sept. 1, 1933

Wallface rescue

Parents, friends and well wishers of three boys who had been trapped on a ledge on Wallface for 32 hours sighed heavily with relief as three tired but happy-faced youths tramped forth from the trail at the Adirondack Lodge club to be fed, bundled up and taken to their homes in Plattsburgh.

Wednesday night, William LaDue, Robert Glenn and Tyler Grey, upon reaching their home received the more intimate ministrations of the mothers who had remained there, the demonstrations differing from the slow wan smiles of the fathers who had previously joined the rescue party.

Beds were welcomed by the plucky trio who could only be induced to leave them to reinforce themselves with food from which they had been deprived while in their temporary rock prison.

The rescue was finally effected with rope, which was dropped to the rescue party on top of the mountain by a plane piloted by Lt. Lyle Churchill of Plattsburgh. The men immediately set about to make it fast about a tree some distance back from the ledge. Following revolver shots aimed at the opposite side of the Indian Pass so that the boys would receive the echo and know that it was time for the long pull up the side of the sheer cliff, five men tugged with heart and muscle alert to the job of pulling the boys to safety without slip or error which might prove fatal.

The rescue itself took about one half hour, the party moving quickly and surely to bring up one boy after another to the top to avoid any possibility of panic or hysteria on the part of the last youth left on the ledge.

Although the first rescuing parties set out Tuesday afternoon equipped with rope, it was of insufficient strength and length to be safe. Darkness, which descends early in the pass, prevented any prolonged attempt to get the boys down Tuesday night.

They had been crouched on a jutting rock with a 45-degree downward angle since 11 o’clock that morning. Robert LaDue, brother of William, did not attempt the climb and when he realized the predicament of the youthful Alpiners, he rushed back to the lodge for assistance.

Tuesday night, several of the rescue party from the club attempted to scale the cliff where the boys had ascended but were forced to abandon the attempt after a climb of 75 feet. Agreeing to wait for the morning light before any further attempt to reach the boys, the rescuing party camped at the foot of the cliff over night.

Those who pulled the boys to safety were Paul Steers, Lake Placid Club; Robert Downs, Saranac Lake; and Sgt. John King, R. M. Ward and Robert Lipton, state police troopers from Troop B.

District Forest Ranger James Hopkins of Saranac Lake and William Winters of Port Henry made the trip in with a coil of heavy rope but arrived after the boys were hoisted.

Dr. Godfrey Dewey and a number of others volunteered and carried food and water to the rescuing party, who had also received some by airplane. During the morning, they lowered sandwiches, water and oranges to the boys, who claim they never did get the water.

Browse past issues of the Lake Placid News from 1914 to 2008 online at nyshistoricnewspapers.org.

Starting at $1.44/week.

Subscribe Today