American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Inadequate Equipment, Exposure, Wet Weather, California, Yosemite Valley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984

INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT, EXPOSURE, WET WEATHER

California, Yosemite Valley

On September 30, 1983, Charles Turner (28) and Alan Jolley (26) began calling for help from “The Block” on the Salathé Wall of El Capitan. A rescue team was flown up to the rim and began setting anchors directly above The Block with the aid of a spotter located on Bridalveil straightaway. A rescuer was lowered to The Block and both victims and the rescuer were able to jumar to the rim by 2130.

The rescue party and the victims spent the night on El Capitan and were flown off via contract helicopter on the morning of October 1. (Source: John Daley and John Dill, SAR Rangers, Yosemite National Park)

Analysis

The climbers stated that they began climbing on September 25, and, on that day, had fixed ten pitches. On Monday they hauled to Heart Ledge and spent the night there, where they got wet in a storm. On Tuesday they fixed to above Hollow Flake and spent the night there. On Wednesday they got to the Alcove and again got wet. On Thursday they got to The Block and sat in the rain and rim runoff from about 1500 Thursday until their rescue Saturday night. Most of their time on The Block was spent together in a bivy bag in an attempt to stay warm. They began yelling for help on Friday morning at 0715 and, at first, assumed that the rangers who were communicating with a German party on The Shield were aware of them also. Sometime around noon on Friday, the victims realized that a rescue was not in progress and began yelling intermittently until they had definitely been contacted by the size-up crew. Both victims stated that they were in “very serious”condition, due to their wet clothing and weakened condition, and that they considered an attempt at retreating but dismissed it, thinking that they were not up to a long, strenuous rappel. (Source: John Daley and John Dill, SAR Rangers, Yosemite National Park)

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