Offroad enthusiasts recover truck from cliff's edge with quick thinking and Hi-Lift Jacks

This story comes to us from Dan Griffin, owner of 2Xplore out of Vancouver, WA. A normal day on the trail turned into a nightmare when a vehicle from the group began to slide off of the trail towards a 200 foot drop into a river. Thanks to some ingenuity and a couple Hi-Lift Jacks, they were able to stabilize the truck and pull it back onto the trail.

Dan Griffin writes:

“Sunday, September 17, 2017 started out like many other trail days for Mike Block, Will Gillette and me. This trip we had planned to visit several places in SW Idaho and SE Oregon. On this Sunday morning, we awoke just outside Silver City, ID, where the previous day we had spent exploring. This was day 3 of 9 for us and today’s adventure called for crossing the Owyhee river at Three Forks.

As we made our way to Three Forks we swung by Jordan Valley for fuel. Our plan was to cross the Owyhee and camp on the Western Rim where we could hike to the hot springs. When we arrived, we spent a bit of time looking around and assessing our river crossing. After determining that crossing the Owyhee would be straight forward all of us proceeded one at a time without a problem. We then took several minutes to scout out the shelf road that leads out of the canyon on the western side. It is a rocky, narrow road that looked in good condition.

Will led of us up the trail, followed by myself and then Mike taking up sweep. As Will approached the top of the rim he called on the radio for a spot, I secured my truck and headed up the trail to spot him through an area where he did not have a good visual due to the steepness of the trail. After Will cleared the top I asked him to reciprocate, as I too would have poor vision at the top. This is where things suddenly changed for the day.

As Will began to spot me, Mike moved up the trail a bit behind me. As he did, a 3-4-foot section of the trail gave out causing Mike’s right rear tire to slide off the road. All I could see in my rear-view mirror was a cloud of dust and Mike’s truck teetering as if it was about to roll off the trail down 200 feet to the Owyhee river. Will quickly ran down the trail to further assess the situation and signaled for me to back down.

Our initial “stuck assessment’ determined we needed to emergently secure Mike’s truck due to how it was precariously sitting and about to roll off the trail. We initially hooked to the front of Mike’s truck with a short extension line to the rear of my truck and took the slack out of it. This was not as effective as we had hoped and we quickly decided that we would need to hook to the driver’s side rock slider to secure the truck laterally. This was easier said than done…take into mind we are on a very steep, rock shelf road that is void of trees. The rock is of such nature that it virtually crumbles away. We realized there was no way to do a redirect from my winch so we deployed a Hi-Lift Jack then set up a hand winch and a 20-foot section of chain wrapped around a BFR a hundred feet above us on the hillside.

Once this was accomplished, we were able to get Mike safely out of the truck. We had felt that the truck was so precarious and “light” that if we had attempted to extricate Mike without securing the truck, the loss of his weight on the uphill side of the truck would have caused it to roll. After getting Mike safely out we took a break to regroup, thank God for miracles, and come up with a solid recovery plan. We realized that we needed to pull the truck back down onto the road as it was sitting on the right-side rock slider with the driver’s side wheel about 2 feet in the air. We also knew that there was no way to maintain driver control of the stuck vehicle due to safety. The angle at which we had initially secured the driver’s side slider was to “shallow” to allow us to pull the vehicle over onto the road way. We then determined we would need to set up an additional hand winch line using a second Hi-Lift. This system was attached to the passenger side rock slider using a 4-inch tree saver and run directly over the B pillar of the cab for strength. Doing this we would effectively be able to “pull” the truck over. At this point I’m guessing we are 2 or more hours into the recovery.

Once we had pulled the truck over the best we could, we first attempted to pull it back up on the road by doing a simple pull using my truck in 1st gear, 4 low, with rear lockers on. Yeah, that didn’t work. So, on to plan C. We used Will’s truck as an anchor, extended my winch line, and secured it to Will’s truck. Once this was accomplished I slowly drove forward in 1st gear, 4 low, with locker engaged while winching. Sure enough, Mike’s truck popped onto the road. At this point we made a few adjustments to clear some rocks and Mike was able to drive his truck to the top without any damage.

I want to emphasize here the use of not 1, but 2 Hi-Lift Jacks in making this recovery possible. Too often I hear folks, who clearly know little to nothing, tell others how worthless and horrible HI-Lift Jacks are. That they are “Dangerous” or just “4×4 Bling” I am here to tell you “NO, THEY ARE NOT”. They are the most versatile tool we carry, and in the hands of a trained person are priceless and in this situation, they were a life saver.”

Dan Griffin

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.