Stranded, Inadequate Equipment, Exceeding Ability, Bad Weather, Exposure, California, Five Open Books

Publication Year: 1980.


California, Five Open Books

Thomas Kornesczuk (15) and Terry Orman (14) were climbing in T-shirts and jeans on Five Open Books late in the afternoon on November 23. The weather turned bad and darkness set in. They were then unable to get down. They yelled for help. Rangers rappelled down to them, jumared them out and walked them down. (Source: Hal Grovert, SAR Officer, Yosemite National Park)


Kornesczuk and Orman had very little climbing experience. It was late in the day and the weather was turning bad, yet they still decided to “go for it.” They were marginally equipped in T-shirts and jeans. They had polypropeline rope for runners. They were using pitons on an all nut route, and were pounding the pitons in with a claw hammer. They knew how to climb up, but were unable to get back down, because they were unfamiliar with rappel techniques. (Source: Hal Grovert, SAR Officer, Yosemite National Park)

(Ed. Note: This incident has an interesting parallel to an accident on New Hampshire’s Franconia Cliff 20 years ago. The young fellows on that climb were using nails for pitons, gauze bandage for carabiners, and clothesline rope. They were not as fortunate as Kornesczuk and Orman, as civilian rescuers were unable to reach them before they died from hypothermia.)