American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falling Rock, No Hard Hat, California, Yosemite Valley, El Capitan

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1994


California, Yosemite Valley, El Capitan

On April 11, 1993, around 1100, Mike Fischesser (40ish) and Joe Lackey were ascending fixed ropes to reach their gear on Sickle Ledge (top of pitch #4) on the Nose route of El Cap. When Mike reached the top of the first rope anchors, he was struck in the top of the head and forehead with rocks from above. Climbers on Sickle Ledge, approximately 450 feet above, probably knocked the rocks off accidentally. Instantly blood was everywhere. Mike yelled that he had been struck in the head by rocks and for Joe to ascend up as fast as possible. Joe arrived to find Mike maintaining pressure with his left hand on top of the head wound. Mike had looped his upper body through a sling to maintain an upright position in case of a loss of consciousness. Joe lowered Mike to the ground and escorted him to the medical clinic where his lacerations received sutures.


Mike and Joe knew the routes in the valley with rockfall reputations, but had not considered the Nose as one of them. Wrong. With the frequency of parties on a route like the Nose, it would be very wise to wear helmets (and a shower curtain for the poop bags). (Source: Mike Fischesser)

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