The 27-year-old New York man who slid headfirst 300 feet down the Crater Lake caldera Monday morning had jumped a safety barrier near the Sinnott Memorial Overlook at Rim Village, park officials said.

The 27-year-old New York man who slid headfirst 300 feet down the Crater Lake caldera Monday morning had jumped a safety barrier near the Sinnott Memorial Overlook at Rim Village, park officials said.

Eric Brimlow of Syracuse, N.Y., was with friends at about 10:30 a.m. when he stepped on top of a rock wall barrier on the path to the overlook. Then, for unknown reasons, he jumped across a gap separating the wall from the rim, which is covered in snow. Unable to stop himself, he began sliding down the steep, slippery bank until he was caught in some trees.

Brimlow was in critical condition late Tuesday at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, hospital officials said.

It took four hours to rescue Brimlow by stretcher from the caldera using a park ranger-led rope team trained in high-angle rescue, said Marsha McCabe, spokeswoman for the national park. Nearly 50 park personnel were involved in the effort, she said.

Brimlow, who slipped in and out of consciousness, was treated at the scene, then airlifted to RVMC by Mercy Flights, said Rodney Blake, a Mercy Flights representative. RVMC spokesman Grant Walker said he could not release details of Brimlow's injuries.

McCabe said she didn't know why Brimlow jumped and attributed the decision to "just being young." She said he was stopped from sliding farther down the slope when he became caught between two trees.

McCabe said regardless of season and conditions, the rock wall is hazardous and off-limits.

"That's a dangerous spot with or without snow, and sliding is always a possibility," McCabe said.

Nick Atkins, dining room manager at Crater Lake Lodge, was coming to work when he was passed by ambulances, and then saw about 50 onlookers watching park rangers setting up their ropes for the rescue.

"I just don't understand how anybody could lean far enough forward they could slip. But things happen," said Atkins.

A ranger from the overlook spotted Brimlow against a tree, and Chief Ranger Pete Reinhardt tied off from a tree and rappelled 100 feet down a ravine. Jason Ramsdell, ranger operations supervisor at the park, joined him and they rigged more ropes to another tree to move down and across the loose rock slope.

Reinhardt found Brimlow unconscious but breathing, pinned against a tree at the base of a 5-foot cliff. Reinhardt tied Brimlow in and with ranger Christina Sheppard tried to hoist him to the top of the cliff, where the ground was flat. But they needed help.

Biologist Mark Buktenica took over managing the ropes at the midpoint belay. Ramsdell and ranger Paul Schauer rappelled down where they rigged pulleys to a tree 20 feet above Brimlow, and the four rangers pushed and pulled him up.

On flat ground, they bundled him in the litter. Ramsdell and the rest scrambled back up the wall and Reinhardt went with the litter while others hauled on pulleys for the long climb to the top.

Coming out the way the man went in, the team put extension ladders across the snow chasm and slid the litter to the path.

"I am a rock climber and I would not begin to think about doing what the rangers did," Atkins said.

People and things going over the edge are nothing new. Last September, an Ashland couple forgot to set the parking brake on their car and the vehicle rolled over the rim into the caldera with their dog inside. The dog escaped through the sunroof, before the car fell some 1,000 feet.

In February 2009, rescuers hauled up a Klamath Falls man who suffered only scrapes after sliding about 200 feet over the edge while trying to retrieve a friend's cellphone.

Two things happen," when visitors ignore the signs and get too close to the edge of the caldera wall, said Ramsdell. "Either they don't fall that far and have minor injuries, or they fall very far and are dead.

"It was surprising he (Brimlow) was moving and alive," he said.

In addition to Crater Lake Park National Park personnel and Mercy Flights, Chiloquin Volunteer Ambulance Service also participated in the rescue operation.

Mat Wolf is a University of Oregon reporting intern. Reach him at 541-776-4481 or by email at Jeff Barnard of The Associated Press contributed to this story.