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Protection Came Off, Shoulder Dislocation, California, Yosemite Valley, Half Dome


California, Yosemite Valley, Half Dome

On September 9, 1993, at 1700, I was dispatched to the SAR cache to work as the medic on a Half Dome SAR. Warner Braun, Pat Sullivan and I were flown to the base of Half Dome where we made contact with Fred Berman (27) who had injured his right shoulder while climbing.

Berman and his climbing partner were still rappelling when we arrived on scene. Braun and Sullivan scrambled a few hundred feet up a ledge system and helped secure anchors to continue lowering Berman.

Berman reached the ground about 2030. Berman was medically evaluated, an IV started and morphine administered for pain. Due to the lack of light and rugged terrain, we camped for the evening at the base of the climb. I continued to administer morphine throughout the night to counter Berman's pain.

At 0740 the helicopter landed at the base of Half Dome and Berman and I were flown to Crane Flat. Berman was then transported by ambulance to Yosemite Medical Clinic where he was diagnosed with an anterior dislocation of his right shoulder.

Berman told me he had been leading the pitch and was working on a traverse. He had done three “hook” moves and then moved on to some copperheads. While stepping from one copperhead to another, it gave way. Berman reached up with his right hand and caught a ledge (picture a one-armed pull up). Bermans weight pulling on his one arm dislocated his shoulder.

The injury occurred around 0830. Berman began descending immediately. His partner would lower him and than rappel down and continue their descent. While Berman was being lowered, the climbers spotted a group of three people hiking up to the base of Half Dome. Voice contact was established and one of the party of three hiked back down to contact Rangers. (Source: C. Robinson, NPS Ranger, Yosemite National Park)

(Editors Note: John Dill, SAR Ranger, commented that these two should get ten points for self-help! It is to be encouraged, while recognizing that it may not always be advisable.)