AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, Inadequate Footwear, California, Yosemite Valley


California, Yosemite Valley

On July 18, Amy Khoo (19), Matthew Enu (24) and a newly met climbing partner, Joey Chiarucci (26) were using technical climbing equipment to climb the lower Yosemite Falls waterfall route, just to the east of lower Yosemite Falls. They completed this climb safely, and then secured their climbing gear in their backpacks. They remained at the top of the lower falls for a few hours, swimming in the pool there.

They then attempted to descend from the area by first climbing to the top of a granite bench by which they then were going to walk off from the climb, going to the east across Sunnyside bench. At this point they were not wearing their climbing boots. In fact, Amy Khoo was wearing Birkenstock sandals. As Khoo attempted to climb to the top of the bench, she lost her footing and fell about eight meters down a moderate angle slope. She was injured, knocking out several teeth, possibly fracturing her left femur, and sustaining multiple areas of significant abrasions to her arms and legs. Matthew rappelled down to her, determined that she needed medical attention and a technical evacuation, and sent Joey Chiarucci down to the NPS Maintenance Yard where he contacted Ranger Cameron Jacobi at 1910. I organized an immediate response, sending a blitz team headed by John Dill up Sunnyside Bench with initial medical and technical gear. A follow-up team, headed by Jacobi then geared up and followed Dill a half hour later. Due to darkness, Khoo was not evacuated by helicopter. Litter evacuation was completed by 0100 on July 19. (Source: James Tucker, Ranger, Yosemite National Park.)