American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

California, Yosemite National Park

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1967

California, Yosemite National Park. On 11 August, Larry Gee (15) and Mike Montgomery (15), along with three other boys and two girls, of about the same age, started at 11:00 a.m. to climb the talus slope just south and west of Le Conte Memorial. After only a short way up (100 to 150 yards) two boys and two girls turned back. The three remaining boys continued on up the talus. At a point about midway between the base of the talus, and where it makes a left turn (facing south), the third boy returned to the valley floor. He felt his parents would be mad if his brother returned to camp without him, the brother being one of the first two boys that returned with the girls. Larry Gee and Mike Montgomery continued on. They had with them a canteen of water and a new length of ¼" cotton clothesline rope, about 50 feet long. They were wearing tennis shoes.

Their climb extended to the point where the talus turns left (facing south) and on up, approximately 1500 to 1800 feet above the valley floor. At this point, Larry and Mike left the talus slope and started up the south cliff face. This climb took them to approximately 800 to 900 feet below the cliff crest. At this point they could go no further and turned back.

Larry and Mike spent the next one-and-a-half hours or more finding their way down to a point about 250 feet above the talus. The young men could not agree at this time on the route to take down. Larry tied the cotton rope to a tree about eight inches in diameter and tied a loose end to his waist. He then started down, holding on to some small trees or bushes. Mike could not see Larry because of some small trees. Larry called to Mike that he was coming back. Mike then heard slipping noises, Larry screaming, and a sound which he believed was Larry hitting below somewhere. Mike possibly went into mild shock at this time. He stayed there a few minutes saying “Larry” over and over in a loud voice. Mike then started down the way he believed they had come up. About 20 feet below and west of the point where Larry had fallen from, Mike slipped on a mossy rock and went down about 10 or 12 feet, not hurting himself.

Mike found Larry on a ledge about 40 to 60 feet below the position that he had fallen from. Mike asked Larry where he hurt. He answered, “All over.” Mike said, “Don’t move.” Larry answered, “I won’t. Get help.” Mike made his way down from the ledge, 175 to 200 feet to the talus. He continued down the talus yelling for help and that Larry had been hurt. About half-way down the straight section of the talus he met his older brother (17 years old) and a man he did not know. He told them what had happened and they continued on up the talus. The brother and older man did not find Larry and went past the ledge where he was. They continued on until they reached the ledge trail and followed it up. They were benighted and stayed on a ledge until three Rangers and one fire guard came to their aid. Mike met his father about 200 feet above the valley floor. The father and son came down together from that point.

Gee apparently died in the night from his injuries shortly after Mike left. He was dead when the rescue party reached the scene about midnight.

Source: Fredrick Anderson, Park Ranger

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