Muir Rescue/Recovery

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Messages 41 - 60 of total 350 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
chappy

Social climber
ventura
May 19, 2013 - 09:49pm PT
The whole experience was rather humbling. One minute it was a beautiful spring morning with friends on the Captain--Jim, George and myself as well as 4 German climbers. Two were friends of Jim's from previous travels. The five of us shared dinner and a fun evening together the previous night. The other two we had just met that morning. We had all met up at the base of the Nose helping one another and sharing the somewhat cramped real estate. It was all good. Jim had just followed George's lead of the first pitch and I had jumared about half way up the first pitch...then I heard the explosion. I looked up and saw the impact in the gray bands. A large dust cloud. Holy Shit! I knew this was bad--potentially really bad. We were in the impact zone and helpless. I started yelling--everyone started yelling Rock! Rock! There was that moment in time staring up and waiting for the impact. We were helpless--fish in a barrel. As the rock started raining down I was looking up hoping to dodge the worst of it. I briefly thought of how I was the one without a helmet. I realized there was too much coming down and I had to seek shelter. There was none. I covered my head as best I could with my arms and hugged the rock waiting for the impact that would split my head open. Miraculously this never happened. The worst passed just to the east of us. Max (one of the Germans)was worried my jumar rope would be cut. When it cleared we called around--Was anyone hurt!? No. Thank God. I decided immediately to rap and informed Jim and George. I had no idea what caused the rock fall and didn't know if more was on the way. I didn't want to find out. Max and his girl friend joined me and we were soon at the base of Pine Line. I thought I heard yelling from above as I was rapping. Sure enough. Jim and George had heard it too. People were calling for help. As I was on the ground I raced for the road to raise the alarm. I passed a group of people hiking up and asked if they had a cell phone. No. The second group of people I encountered just before the road informed me that the rangers had already been notified and were in El Cap meadow. I dumped my pack at my truck and approached the rangers. I told them what had happened and we tried to locate the distressed climbers. More park service personnel arrived with a spotting scope. The climbers were located in the upper dihedrals of the Muir. Things were starting to make sense. A rock fall there would have hurtled down and impacted exactly where it did. The rock fall wasn't natural. Things were about to get worse--much worse. I could see the climbers haul bags and belay through my binoculars. There was something I missed. A tourist with a very good set of binoculars asked me about the climber hanging there at the end of the rope. What? I asked. Yeah, he's been hanging there a long time. Puzzled I took a second look. OH MY GOD!
Sure enough there was a limp body hanging on a rope a full rope length below their belay. It wasn't a pretty sight. He had to be dead. The full impact of what happened, of what was happening began to settle in. This wasn't going to be a rescue but a body recovery. I also reflected on our own close call. A rescue helicopter arrived. It did a fly by and landed once again in the meadow. A rescue team and gear was being assembled. Tourists and climbers were also gathering. There was a somber mood--especially among the climbers. We had lost one of our own. It could just as easily been any one of us. Climbing accidents happen. People sometimes die climbing but we never think it will ever actually be you or me. If we did we would probably quit climbing. And then it happens. To some one we know, or to someone very close to us--a friend of a friend, or it happens in our presence. It is sobering and gives one pause. The climbing girl who was up on the Muir just a day or two before said it best... and I am paraphrasing here--I wish I could remember her exact words as they seemed so poignant, so perfect: Climbing seems like the best thing in the world and then something like this happens and we wonder why we do it at all.

Hopefully, in the wondering, in the sobering pause we can all reach a deeper understanding and appreciation of life, of friendship, of love, of those things really important and meaningful to us all. My condolences to all who knew and cared for this fallen member of our greater community.
klk

Trad climber
cali
May 19, 2013 - 09:55pm PT
terrible news.

rock fall on that scale, from high on the muir, could've taken out even more folks. hope it's stable now and isn't a new active zone. we've been spoiled by the relative stability of el cap.

condolences to all the friends and family--

10b4me

Ice climber
Soon 2B Arizona
May 19, 2013 - 09:55pm PT
Thanks Mark that iS a hell of a thing to be a part of, let alone witness
Gagner

climber
Boulder
May 19, 2013 - 09:57pm PT
Whoa - terrible. Glad you are okay Mark, as well as the others below. A sad sad day .... condolences...

Paul
elAndy

Trad climber
El Portal, CA
May 19, 2013 - 09:58pm PT
My heart goes out to the deceased tonight and their grieving family. A sad day for the climbing community. Another reminder that every day lived is a day worth cherishing and that every moment needs to be appreciated. Sad day.
Leggs

Sport climber
Is this a trick question?
May 19, 2013 - 09:58pm PT
Hopefully, in the wondering, in the sobering pause we can all reach a deeper understanding and appreciation of life, of friendship, of love, of those things really important and meaningful to us all.

So very true... as tears blur my eyes at what was experienced, witnessed and lost.

Thank you for your post, Chappy.
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Menlo Park
May 19, 2013 - 10:06pm PT
Perhaps the details will come out later...

...but is it known if the deceased climber instigated the rockfall , as in pulling on something loose? Or did rock cut loose above him spontaneously , and he got caught under it ?

what a sad day .
mcbaker

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 19, 2013 - 10:12pm PT
I was in the meadow later this afternoon and saw more very visible rock fall coming from west of the heart. Completely separate area. Scary. Deepest condolences to those affected.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
May 19, 2013 - 10:43pm PT
I remembered reading about a block on the Muir Wall recently so I did a search. This was from a 2001 entry i http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/beta/Yosemite-Valley-El-Capitan-Muir-Wall;

To the right of belay 32 (as shown on Supertopo) there is a huge block directly above where the haul bag sits on P30. This is the most logical place to to set up for hauling, however the block appears to be detached, and possibly unstable. Rather than place gear around or on this potential death block, we anchored the station by extending our 60m ropes to trees on the rim above.


At the beginning of the same thread Chris McNamara mentions a " loose flake " in the same spot. This is what scares me most about climbing. Sad day today. Maybe these loose features could be cataloged better or something?
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
May 19, 2013 - 10:51pm PT
Thanks, Mark.

[And wear a damn helmet, Dumbass. You're lucky to be alive.]
RP3

Big Wall climber
El Portal/Chapel Hill
May 19, 2013 - 10:55pm PT
Given where he fell, and the lack of a fresh rock-scar, I bet he pulled off a block. When I climbed the Muir a year ago, getting to the ledge on pitch 26, I pulled on a horrifically loose block the size of a small chest of drawers. It rocked, I pushed it back in place, and climbed up/around it, setting the lead and the haul line so that they did not touch it. My guess is that he pulled this block off, it fell, hit the grey bands, and knocked a bunch of other loose material off the wall.

This is truly awful and my heartfelt sympathies go to family, friends, and everyone else effected by this tragedy.

-Roger Putnam
RP3

Big Wall climber
El Portal/Chapel Hill
May 19, 2013 - 10:58pm PT
McHale...The block you are speaking of is bomber compared with the block I suspect he pulled off. Also the incident happened lower down.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
May 19, 2013 - 11:39pm PT
Thanks, I could not really tell from the thread where it ocurred. I knocked some rocks down out of the Grey Bands while doing the TD in 1972. Can't remember what happened. Besides yelling rock I could only hope people below would be OK.
Yafer

Trad climber
Chatsworth, California
May 19, 2013 - 11:41pm PT
This afternoon in El Cap Meadow.
This afternoon in El Cap Meadow.
Credit: Yafer
Yafer

Trad climber
Chatsworth, California
May 19, 2013 - 11:47pm PT
El Capitan today from the meadow.
El Capitan today from the meadow.
Credit: Yafer
Michael Nicholson

Big Wall climber
Thousand Oaks
May 20, 2013 - 12:15am PT
Sorry to hear about this...El Cap is so fun it sucks that this stuff happens
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
May 20, 2013 - 01:40am PT
hey there say, mark...


i love you.... i sure know my prayers are watching over you...

i just read this, from jaime... i been offline, all night, busy...



my deep condolences to the family of the climber that died, :(

thank you for sharing what happened...
i love you, dear brother of mine... i am very thankful that you are still
here with us... give my love to jaime, i just posted on her facebook...

hugs hugs and more hugs...
and god bless...

remember--you have a sis that loves you very much...
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
May 20, 2013 - 04:05am PT
hey there say, all...


oh my... at the time this happened, when a climber died, and my brother and his friends, and a few other climbers, came through alive, i was:

watching new life take place, as i was following a mama robin around the yard, as she fed her baby... :(


i wish that lone climber could have had life, as well, but
sadly, it was not to be...


i will always be grateful, for those that lived, by the grace of a
miracle...




once again, my deep condolences to the climber's family and loved ones...
Tobia

Social climber
Denial
May 20, 2013 - 04:41am PT
Prayers and condolences to all involved. Life is as precarious as the loose rock on the Captain. Such a tragedy to read about.
Double D

climber
May 20, 2013 - 05:53am PT
My condolences and prayers goes out to all family, friends and YSAR personnel who were on the scene.

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