ROPE STUCK ON RAPPEL, STRANDED
California, Yosemite Valley, Royal Arches
On June 16, 1993, around 1630, Erika Heine (19) and Tracy Walker (29) stuck their rope while rappelling on the Royal Arches descent route. They were at the third rappel station. They had tied a knot into the end of the rope as a safety precaution. While they were pulling the ropes through the upper anchor, the end with the knot got away from them and was out of reach before they realized it. After several attempts to get to it, they realized they would need assistance to get off the route.
They just forgot about the knot until it was too late. They pulled the ropes, hoping the knot would go through. It didn’t. The wall was blank in all directions, with the nearest possible protection 50 feet above. They didn’t want to take a 100 plus foot fall onto their belay anchors. They decided against climbing the rope. In a remote area, and/or a storm rolling in (even Toulumne Meadow in summer), this kind of mistake can be fatal. (Source: Michael LaLone and John Dill, SAR Rangers, Yosemite National Park)