American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, No Hard Hat, California, Yosemite National Park, Tuolumne Meadows

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001


California, Yosemite National Park, Tuolumne Meadows

On August 12, Chris Weeldreyer (36) was leading the first pitch (5.9+) of Needle Spoon, a face climb on Pywiack Dome in Tuolumne Meadows, belayed by Henry Cutler. Near the end of the pitch, 5-10 feet above his last protection (a bolt), his feet slipped and he fell over backward, striking his head. He fell 10- 20 feet and stopped, unconscious and hanging upside down with blood running down the rock from a scalp laceration. He woke up about a minute later and was able to right himself. Henry lowered him to the belay and applied a pressure dressing to the wound. Chris only remembers falling, then waking up at the belay with a bloody head.

Chris was able to make the rappel down 3rd class terrain and walk out a few hundred yards to the road. By this time he was fully alert, but the NPS medics were concerned about possible skull and neck fractures. Chris was given oxygen and an IV, immobilized on a backboard, and flown to Mammoth Lakes Hospital for X-rays. He was released that evening, with no fractures.


We do not know the level of experience of these climbers. We do know that climbers here often choose not to wear helmets. Sometimes they get away with it. (Source: John Dill, NPS Ranger, Yosemite National Park, and Jed Williamson)

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