Another rock climber fell this week while climbing in Yosemite Valley.
The 26-year-old man from Palo Alto, who has not been named, fell a distance of 30 feet from a granite rock face last Sunday. Although the climber suffered from major injuries, his condition was reported as stable by a spokesperson from the California Highway Patrol.
The man, who came from the Bay Area, was attempting to scale an area in Yosemite known as Higher Cathedral Spire, which is situated at the southern end of the valley. He was not climbing alone and had three companions with him. When he fell, he landed on a rock bench around 1000 feet above the valley floor. Due to the nature of his injuries, and the pain he was in, the man was not able to move.
A team of officers from the California Highway Patrol, together with responders from the National Park Service, flew a helicopter to the injured climber and hoisted him aboard.
Paramedic Andrea Brown, who helped pull the climber into the helicopter, said, “He had a pretty decent ledge that he landed on, but there was a lot of vertical rock around him, which made it incredibly difficulty to fly in. He had a significant back trauma and was unable to walk.”
A second helicopter linked up with the rescue team at El Capitan Meadow and then flew the climber to a hospital in Modesto.
This fall in Yosemite Park is the second incident involving a climber in less than a week. Last Tuesday there was an incident in which a woman experienced back pain while hiking along Tenaya Creek on the front side of Half Dome. Because the woman was not able to walk, a rescue crew had to fly the woman to a hospital.
Opinion is divided about the degree of danger involved in rock climbing or mountaineering, but to an outside observer the activity is inherently dangerous.
Less than a year ago a British doctor died in an accident at Yosemite after being struck by a falling rock. The statistics concerning climbers in Yosemite are disturbing.
According to The National Park Service, there are over 100 climbing accidents in Yosemite each year. Of these, between 15 – 25 require the help of emergency services.
The Park Service has pointed out in the past that rock climbing is inherently risky, and that climbers must assume total responsibility for their actions.
Somehow, that seems to be an oxymoron – putting “rock climbing” and “sense of responsibility” together!