October 23, 2012

Sheer-face rescue on El Capitan keeps climber from suffering severe hypothermia

October 23, 2012 - Yosemite National Park Rangers and Search and Rescue Personnel completed high risk rescue on El Capitan, the largest granite monolith in the world, in Yosemite Valley, on Monday, October 22, 2012. A stranded Canadian climber was at risk for hypothermia, according to a KMPH-TV report.
El Capitan
Two rock climbers began ascending a climbing route, known as the Muir Wall, on El Capitan on Monday, October 14, 2012. The party was due to reach the top of the climb on Sunday night, October 21, just before a large storm was forecast. The lead climber, a 24-year old male from Ontario, Canada, reached the summit just before midnight on Sunday night.

The second climber, a 40-year old male from British Columbia, Canada, was forced to spend the night approximately 230 feet below the summit due to impending bad weather and a stuck climbing rope. He was unable to properly erect the rainfly on his portaledge (tent system). During the night, the area received approximately four to six inches of snow with nighttime temperatures in the mid-twenties.

Yosemite Park Rangers were notified of the possible hypothermic climber midday on Monday, October 22. Due to unfavorable weather, the park could not use a helicopter to assist in the rescue and instead deployed ground teams. Park Rangers and rescue crews hiked to the summit of El Capitan to rescue the climber. The team rigged anchors and immediately began lowering Park Ranger Smith approximately 230 feet to the climber. Upon arrival, Smith found the climber to be suffering from exhaustion and mild hypothermia. Smith attached ropes to the climber, and then ascended the ropes back to the summit. Using a mechanical advantage system of pulleys, the team was then able to hoist the climber to the summit.

After warming the climber, the team descended back to Yosemite Valley via hiking and rappelling. The climber was transported to a local hospital and is in good condition.