Mariposa & Yosemite

Yosemite avalanche victim's injuries not life-threatening

A 38-year-old South Korean mountaineer rescued Tuesday morning from Half Dome is in a Modesto hospital with injuries that are not life-threatening.

Jun Ho Wang was with a mountaineering party of six or seven when an avalanche struck Monday afternoon. He rode out the avalanche about 300 feet.

His injuries included a broken femur, frostbite and possibly hypothermia, said Erik Skindrud, a Yosemite National Park ranger.The avalanche occurred about 4:20 p.m. Monday.

"He was out there all night," Skindrud said. "He had to have been in a lot of pain."

The temperatures were not exceedingly cold for this time of year. The overnight temperatures dipped into the middle and upper 20s, National Weather Service records show.

But being wet combined with cold could be fatal, Skindrud said.

Avalanches are not unusual in Yosemite, especially during wet weather, Skindrud said.

Avalanches typically elicit a casual response to the initial noise, but not much else, he said.

“If there is no one up there and all you did was hear it, you may look up and that’s all the attention you will give it,” he said.Last week, Skindrud said, he heard numerous avalanches in the park.

Skindrud said the weekend’s rain and wet snow likely dislodged the wall of snow that carried Wang along with it.

“Different forms of precipitation and change of temperatures may have contributed to a number of small avalanches around the park,” he said.

About 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, a California Highway Patrol helicopter reached Wang and airlifted him to Doctors Hospital in Modesto. His condition was unavailable, but his injuries are not life-threatening, a hospital official said.

The group had been preparing by camping overnight in winter gear and were continuing their camping trip Tuesday, Skindrud said.

The group was composed of experienced mountaineers. They were practicing difficult climbing maneuvers on Half Dome in preparation for a trip later this year to scale the second-highest mountain in the world, K2 in northern Pakistan.