FAILURE TO FOLLOW ROUTE, STRANDED, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT, EXCEEDING ABILITIES
California, Yosemite Valley
Brian Bennett (21) and Alan Swanson (24) stated that they began climbing the Harding Route on Glacier Point Apron (Grade III, Y.D.S. 5.7), at 10 a.m. on June 29, 1980. They finished the climb and, following Roper’s Climber’s Guide to Yosemite Valley, p. 207, were attempting to descend via the Glacier Point Terrace descent route.
They encountered an area of confusion (painted arrow on granite vs. bolts and hang- ers).They chose the rappel bolts. They descended one pitch (50 m) and decided that they were not on the Glacier Point Terrace, so they rappelled down to an older belay point (off route). It was then about 7:30 p.m. They tried to climb back up to the Glacier Point Terrace route, but found the climbing to be difficult (Y.D.S. 5.9-5.10a and beyond their climbing ability). They then rappelled down to some old rappel slings, hoping to do a pendulum traverse to the Rohr rappel bolts (a secure, well-defined descent route).
Bennett and Swanson had only one rope and no manual or mechanical ascending devices; they found themselves attempting to do a rappel with the one rope, where two ropes were required. They could not climb back up, and were stuck. They then called for help and a rescue was initiated. After a bivouac, Rangers Orza and Zulim reached the climbers at 8 a.m. on June 30. The climbers were rappelled to the valley floor by 10 a.m.
I questioned Bennett and Swanson immediately thereafter. They stated they they required rescue because they had only one rope and no jumars and did not know how to make prusik knots from slings. (Source: Scott Kruse, SAR Ranger, Yosemite National Park)
See Rixon’s Pinnacle accident report analysis, page 30.