American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded, Inadequate Clothing and Equipment, Exceeding Abilities, California, Yosemite Valley National Park, Fairview Dome

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995

STRANDED, INADEQUATE CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT, EXCEEDING ABILITIES

California, Yosemite Valley National Park, Fairview Dome

On August 20, 1994, at 2100, climber Ray Pichette reported to Tuolumne Meadows rangers that he had passed a slow party of two on the Regular Route on Fairview Dome that day, and when he had called up to them later from the base they had indicated that they needed help. He felt they were inadequately clothed for a cold night and lacked headlamps.

Pichette and two rangers recontacted the party by yelling from the road. It was difficult to hear clearly, but they felt the party was four pitches from the top and asking for help. Thirteen rescue team members hiked to the top of Fairview. Two rescuers were lowered over the side at about midnight and reached the stranded party, 500 feet down the face, an hour later. The stranded pair were shivering and reluctant to move, but accepted warm clothes from the rescuers. After dealing with some traverse problems and a stuck rope, everyone had Jumared to the summit by 0320. The incident was completed by 0612.

Analysis

The stranded party, Mary Drumm and Christina Natividad, carried an adequate rack of hardware, but no headlamps and insufficient clothing (e.g., shorts and light shirts). They knew they were climbing slowly and that they had underestimated the length and commitment of the route. They were slowed further by parties passing them and by a party ahead rappelling off because of the late hour. They denied requesting a rescue when they were first contacted. They had hoped to climb out by moonlight, but agreed that they had become too cold to do so on their own. (The low temperature at Tuolumne Meadows that night was 28 F.)

This rescue cost $2000. (Source: Dave Page, NPS Ranger)

(Editor’s Note: This is the kind of rescue that climbers should be charged for, especially given the current need for cost recovery as a result of reduced budgets in the NPS system.)

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