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Falling Haul Bag, California, Yosemite Valley


California, Yosemite Valley

On September 16, 1985,1 received a call indicating that some park visitors had observed a climber fall from El Capitan. I responded with climbers Grant Hisker and Bill Russell, and we began interviewing spectators along El Cap meadow. Finally at the far west end I encountered a group who said they had seen a climber fall and indicate an area on The Nose route. Hisker was sent with a radio and medical size-up gear to contact the descending climbers. He soon reported back that these two climbers had yelled warning about 45 minutes before. After yelling—they had thrown off a large haul bag. (Source: Gary Colliver, SAR Ranger, Yosemite National Park)


This was not an accident, but an example of the kind of report we get five to ten times per year. The National Park Service strongly discourages climbers from routinely jettisoning their haul bags, garbage, and so forth. With the number of other climbers and hikers around, this is a very dangerous activity. We will prosecute for “creating a hazardous condition” and/or impound equipment. Dropping a haul bag in an emergency—such as to allow a self-rescue—is understandable, but being too lazy to carry down what you carried up is not. (Source: Michael Murray, SAR Ranger, Yosemite National Park)