El Capitan, The Shield, Rescue and Judicial Precedent. On May 16, Austrians Christian Zenz and Christian Wassertheurer requested a rescue from The Shield on El Capitan that eventually involved 38 park personnel and two helicopters. In the debriefing it was learned that the two did not have a rainfly for their portaledge or other storm gear. Subsequently, the National Park Service fided criminal complaints, charging the two with disorderly conduct for willfully creating a hazardous situation. The Austrians were asked in court how much of the rescue costs they could afford to pay. Having insurance, they affirmed that they could cover the entire amount. The judge ordered them to pay the entire cost of $13,325 and placed the two on one year of probation.
Court decisions of this kind establish precedent for similar rulings and pave the way for detrimental regulations such as mandatory insurance to obtain climbing permits. The National Park Service’s equipment expectations of wall climbers are: high-quality rain gear, insulated clothing that works well when wet, synthetic sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and a secure, seam-sealed water and wind proof shelter.