High risk rescue of stranded Yosemite climber successful

10/23/2012 6:08 PM

10/23/2012 6:11 PM

A Canadian rock climber is in good condition Tuesday after a high risk rescue atop the summit of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, according to Yosemite National Park Rangers and Search and Rescue Personnel.

The stranded climber was at risk for hypothermia on Monday after attempting to conquer “the largest granite monolith in the world” about 7,569 feet above sea level.

Park Rangers said two rock climbers began a climbing route, known as the Muir Wall, on El Capitan on Monday, October 14. They were supposed to reach the top of the climb on Sunday, October 21 — just before a large snow storm was predicted.

The lead climber, a 24-year old male from Ontario reached the summit just before midnight on Sunday night. The second climber, a 40-year old male from British Columbia was forced to spend the night about 230 feet below the summit because of the bad weather and a stuck climbing rope, according to Park Rangers.

At 2 a.m. on Monday, the 40-year old climber tried getting out of the rain and snow by deploying a hanging tent designed for rock climbers to spend the night on a rock wall. However, he slipped and fell about 15 feet down the face of the rock, Park Rangers reported. During the night, the climber weathered four to six inches of snow with overnight temperatures in the mid-twenties.

Yosemite Park Rangers deployed ground teams after receiving word of the possible hypothermic climber on Monday. They couldn’t send out a helicopter because of the weather.

Park Rangers Aaron Smith and Ben Doyle, and Search and Rescue Crew Member Matt Othmer immediately hiked to the summit of El Capitan to rescue the climber. Slowed down by snow, wind, and ice, they reached the summit at 4 p.m. When they arrived, Smith found the climber to be suffering from exhaustion and mild hypothermia. According to Park Rangers, he attached ropes to the climber, and using pulleys, hoisted the climber to the summit.

After warming the climber, the team descended down by hiking and rappelling, reaching Valley floor at 10 p.m.

The climber was transported to a local hospital and is in good condition.

-- Ramona Giwargis

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