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Stranded, Inexperience — California, Yosemite Valley


California, Yosemite Valley

On August 20, 1982, Al Rosemann (25) and Dave Briggs (25) were attempting to rappel the 5.8 pitch on Bishop’s Terrace (50 meters), when they became stranded because one of them reached the end of his single, doubled climbing rope (25 meters) below an overhang and could not climb back up. One ranger and a Rescue Site Climber did the pitch, set ropes and helped the climbers to reach the ground.

Ranger Gary Colliver and Rescue Site climber John Barbella went to the area with the needed equipment. Colliver belayed Barbella up the 5.0 first pitch of Bishop’s Terrace. Barbella then fixed a second rope which Colliver used to jumar up to the climber hanging from the end of his rappel rope. Colliver gave him a hard hat and assisted him in transferring his rappel setup to the fixed rope, which reached the ground. The first climber then rappeled to the ground and Colliver jumared to the top of the pitch to meet Barbella and the second climber to whom he also gave a hard hat. The ropes were set for a full double-rope rappel to the ground and the second climber, Colliver and Barbella all rappelled safely. (Source: Gary Colliver, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)


Rosemann related that they had talked with some climbers who had done this route and had told them that it was one rappel to the ground from the end of the route. Colliver told him that the end of the route was a short distance above them and about 30 meters east of them and pointed out that, since they had just climbed the pitch, they should have realized that it was more than 25 meters. Rosemann said they hadn’t thought of that, only that they had been told it was one rappel to the ground. When Colliver reached Rosemann, who was hanging from prusik knots on his doubled rope, he asked him why he hadn’t prusiked back up the rope. Rosemann answered that he had been too shaken up by the event to consider this. (Source: Gary Colliver, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)