Stranded, Off Route, Inexperience, California, Yosemite Valley, Royal Arches

Publication Year: 1999.


California, Yosemite Valley, Royal Arches

On July 8 around 2330, Yosemite dispatch received multiple 911 calls reporting cries for help coming from the wall near the Awahnee hotel. Ranger Keith Lober investigated and found two climbers calling for help above the Bathtub on the “Royal Arches” descent route. Upon arrival at the Bathtub, Lober found one climber stuck at the end of his rappel rope about 30 feet from the ground. The second climber was secure on a ledge above.

At 2345 an SAR page went out and a team of five rescuers responded. Rescuers climbed up to the stranded climber, placed anchors, and assisted him to the ground. One rescuer then continued up to the second climber and, due to the climber’s inexperience, set up a system to lower him to the ground. All personnel were clear of the field by 0300 on July 9.


Once on the ground the climbers were interviewed and provided the following information: Lead climber Jason Mathew (22) has been climbing for three to four years and usually climbs five times a week, including bouldering. He can lead up to a 5.8 traditional and has completed ten multi-pitch climbs such as the “Crack” and the “Nutcracker.” Partner Dan Pier (25) was on his first multipitch climb and had completed just a few short practice climbs up to a 5.8 difficulty. Mathew and Pier had started the climb around 0800 and one other team had passed them during the day. Mathew had read “Staying Alive in Yosemite” by John Dill. As a note, Mathew was carrying enough equipment to have completed a self-rescue by a variety of methods. (Source: J. Pederson and K. Lober, Rangers, Yosemite National Park)