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Sierra Nevada, California: (2) Half Dome (Yosemite National Park)

Sierra Nevada, California: (2) Half Dome (Yosemite National Park). On 15 September 1948 Paul H. Garinger (30-35) was seen descending the cable on Half Dome. He stopped and appeared to be ill. Seconds later, he disappeared. It is thought that he fainted and then fell to his death.

The most severe forest fire in the history of the Park drew ex perienced personnel away, and thus hampered rescue operations. Recovery of the body was accomplished several days later by a small Sierra Club party, including Al Baxter, who had himself been rescued in a serious Yosemite accident the year before. Severe skull fracture indicated instant death.

Sources of information: National Park Service, and Sierra Club.

Analysis. The route is protected by two heavy steel cables as handrails, waist-high for 800 feet on smooth 43-degree granite slabs. It is intended for use by totally inexperienced persons. This was the first such accident in thousands of ascents since the cables were installed in 1919; it could have been caused by mountain sickness brought on by dehydration and overexertion on the rapid climb of 5000 vertical feet.