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Falling Rock, No Hard Hat, California, Yosemite Valley


California, Yosemite Valley

About 0810 on July 2, 1986, Steve Snyder, a climber near the scene of the injury, contacted Ranger Sherwood at the Little Yosemite Valley Ranger Station with a report of an injured climber at the base of Half Dome. He reported that a rock had struck Jonathan McKinney (29) while he and his brother were preparing to ascend the northwest section. Ranger Sherwood responded with the assistance of Snyder, Ranger Jones, and Scott Jackson as backup. At 0815, Ranger Sherwood notified Dispatch of the situation and requested helicopter assistance. At 0930 Ranger Chris Jackson and Ranger Maxwell landed at Half Dome and assumed control of the medical situation. The victim’s head was bandaged, he was placed in a stokes litter and transported to the Valley medical facility. (Source: Kathy Sherwood, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)


McKinney stated he was not wearing a helmet and was aware of the climbers above him. Both he and his brother admitted hearing that helmets were not needed in Yosemite since the rock was “very clean.”

Ranger Sherwood interviewed one of the two groups climbing the face of Half Dome at the time of the incident. Group #1 had started climbing early that morning (about 0600) and had passed Group #2, who were on their third day. Neither had noticed the group below or admitted knowing of a rock falling at the time of the incident. (Source: Kathy Sherwood, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)