American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded — Rope Stuck, Poor Communication — Wind, Inexperience

California, Yosemite Valley, Sunnyside Bench

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year: 2011
  • Publication Year: 2012

After an hour of getting nowhere, Peter called the NPS for help. The ranger taking the call asked if Peter could rappel or Prusik down and free the rope. Peter replied that he didn’t want to rappel and didn’t know how to Prusik. Ranger Scott obviously didn’t want to force the issue, so two rescuers responded. By the time they reached Nora, the stuck rope had been freed by another passing climber. Nora now had a safe upper belay but the rescuers found her clinging to the rock and afraid to move. Todd continued up to Peter, built his own anchor, and belayed both Nora and Colleen up the pitch. Everyone finished the climb and scrambled down the Sunnyside Bench descent path to the Valley.

Analysis

Nora was a beginner, so it was wise of her to be scared and careful. Peter claimed that he had several years of climbing experience at a high grade, including multi-pitch routes. The rescuers noted that he had an adequate anchor for himself and plenty of gear to descend, so not knowing what to do or how to do it was the likely culprit.

Peter and Nora were very appreciative of the rescuers’ help, but one comment from Peter stuck in Ranger Scott’s mind: “It’s great to climb in the Valley. No matter how much trouble you get into you can just dial 911 for YOSAR.” As long as Peter lacks basic self-rescue skills, we’re likely to hear from him again. (Source: John Dill, NPS Ranger)

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