American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Heat Prostration, California, Yosemite Valley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980

HEAT PROSTRATION

California, Yosemite Valley

David Kays (22) and Ken Corathers (29) were climbing the North Buttress of Middle Cathedral on August 2 when they reported by CB radio to friends on the ground that they were out of water and unable to continue. The original plan was to sling water to the climbers, but this turned out not to be possible.

Evacuation was made by lowering a ranger to them with water. They then jumared to a ledge where they were picked up by helicopter hoist. (Source: Hal Grovert, SAR Officer, Yosemite National Park)

Analysis

Experienced Yosemite climbers are usually aware of the climbing conditions in the Valley in August. When the pioneering of big routes was taking place—before the era of helicopters and rangers being lowered—there were some stories of stoicism and ardor born out of desire and absolute necessity. Some climbs were completed in early morning hours after bivouacs made necessary by water shortage and extreme daytime heat. Again, as we have noted in the recent past, the knowledge of rescue capability and the false security of two-way radios seem to be a part of the problem here. (Source: J. Williamson)

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