John Dill honored


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 30, 2008 - 10:55am PT


Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Oct 30, 2008 - 11:31am PT
An honor he deserves. Are there any of us from the old school, or maybe the new that don't know about the guy?

Trad climber
San Diego
Oct 30, 2008 - 12:30pm PT
Well deserved. I was rescued off of the nutcracker a few years ago after 2 broken legs. I don't know all of the intimate details of the rescue & the team but I imagine he was an integral part. I had a several month email exchange with John afterwards...he helped me track the guy down who I'd been climbing with It wasn't an easy task, he did a bunch of detective work and went way above and beyond the call of duty but it sounds like that is how he does things. I was impressed and extremely appreciative! Thanks, John!!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Oct 30, 2008 - 12:33pm PT
about time! every climber should read John's classic "Staying Alive"

Essential reading to better avoid injury, death or rescue (its a PDF download)

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Oct 30, 2008 - 12:45pm PT
Congrats, John!
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Oct 30, 2008 - 01:29pm PT
John Dill appears in the The Sharp End movie, yelling at Ammon through the bullhorn,
asking him if he needed a rescue... So did Ammon get rescued or did he knott?

I just read the SF Gate article, and regarding this part:

Dill seems to enjoy tales of lucky breaks and miraculous saves, including the recent rescue of a man whose shorts caught on a rock, preventing a thousand foot fall off Half Dome. His reports about them are famous not only for their astute analysis but for their usefulness as cautionary tales.

    I happened upon this photo somewhere online, but I can't remember where it appeared...

Here's a HUGE version (1600 X 1200 pixels) with very good detail:

(click the pic it after it loads to zoom in)

Trad climber
novato ca
Oct 30, 2008 - 05:06pm PT
All climbers should bow down and say thanks. Thanks that he did save your ass or that situation has not happened, yet

Oct 30, 2008 - 05:18pm PT
Name a first ascent done by dill in the valley?
Hint: H.E.

Social climber
wuz real!
Oct 30, 2008 - 05:23pm PT
-Hawkman's Escape

Hobart, Australia
Oct 30, 2008 - 05:35pm PT
John Dill has been central in the innovation of many, if not most, modern rescue techniques. Preferring to remain "behind-the-scenes" he's the kind of fellow who happily encourages others to be the first to publish his concepts. A very clever man, that John Dill, always years ahead of the curve. A well-deserved honor.
It was a great experience to work for Yosar back in the 80's.

John Dill's decisions and organization saved my life back in 1986, on the South Face of Half Dome.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 30, 2008 - 05:39pm PT
A well-deserved honour, as I'm sure my brother would agree.

There's a photo-essay on YOSAR in the current issue of Climbing magazine, including B&W photos of John, Werner, Merry, Link, and others. Again, well-deserved. The cover title for the article is "Angels of Yosemite: Meet YOSAR, the World's Top Rescue Team". Knowing some of the people involved, and how modest they are, I suspect they wouldn't claim to be more than one of the world's top...
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Oct 30, 2008 - 05:46pm PT
MIghty Hiker - thanks for that info. I haven't bought an issue of Climbing in a while,
but I'll be getting that one for sure.

Trad climber
Southern Tier, NY
Oct 30, 2008 - 06:14pm PT
As if having the Dill Dome named in his honor in LYV wasn't enough :)

Congratulations and well deserved.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Oct 30, 2008 - 07:15pm PT
When they give the guy a lifetime achievement award, I have to ask if they are forcing him to retire? Werner?


Oct 30, 2008 - 07:19pm PT
Nah, they gave it out for what it is "A lifetime achievement award".

He's driving around in the electric cart right now Tom.

Oct 30, 2008 - 07:20pm PT
another hint, absolutely free
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 30, 2008 - 07:21pm PT
What?! Has John now taken up golf? I thought they closed the course by the Ahwahnee. :-)
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Oct 30, 2008 - 09:08pm PT
Good to hear, for a second I was worried.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 30, 2008 - 11:22pm PT
I often think of John Dill. Dig his Staying Alive piece. I first met him in I am guessing spring of 1970 or the next season, 1971. At the time I did not realize that he was 10 years my senior. But kind of an MIT engineer type of guy, intense, clear, and frankly driven but at the same time modest in his projects. I mean really intense. We all liked him but it wasn't clear if he understood this. And so from then on, he just kept doing this Valley thing, and like Werner, has been up there for nearly 4---FOUR---decades.

wow, ph.

Social climber
Oct 31, 2008 - 12:03am PT
hey there... i learned about john dill here, thanks to all you guys...

good heroes are hard to find... yosemite is a place where the spotlight has hit them, even though such heroes are wanting to just be part of the land they love... seems their love for mankind, brings them out by duty of the heart, like the night-time stars...

the good lord make them shine bright... and bright they will always shine--and even more so, in the lives of those that they have saved...

heres a sweet thank you to those that help those that have fallen... may all have a chance to live a full and rich life with those they love...

Trad climber
primordial soup
Oct 31, 2008 - 01:03am PT
i first met john dill in the medical clinic when i brought a climber in who'd been injured but not required a rescue. he took a report from us. he was both kind and concerned, yet measured and cautious. he just about stank of knowledge and experience and depth of understanding of every aspect of our conversation (climbing, rescue, injury, risk, protection, evacuation, you name it).

it was clear that we were speaking with a lifer.

after he left i said, "hey, do you know who that was...? that was JOHN DILL. john dill just took your report... wow"


Trad climber
concord, california
Oct 31, 2008 - 03:03am PT
My son Sascha & I owe our lives to John Dill. He coordinated our rescue from North Dome gulley during a snow storm back in April 2007. He talked to us for about an hour after we were safely back down on the valley floor. His intellegence, thoughtfulness, and charisma left an impression on me that I will never forget.

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 31, 2008 - 03:19am PT
I was debriefed by John Dill once. He seemed like a fair man and good person.

Oct 31, 2008 - 01:14pm PT
To bring a little clarity, this award had nothing to do with retirement. I started the process 7 months ago. Before the ceremony, I had a few talks with many high up people, all of whom were grateful for me starting the process and asking for the request of an award for John. As it turns out, with who John is, the award had to be driven by someone he saved, and not by his peer group or those above him. They wanted to many times over, but in order to infringe on John's way-of-life, the meaning had to be overriding. The process also had to be done in secrecy. Karen Taylor-Goodrich flew out from Washington DC mainly to present this award, which allowed it to be kept secret and also allowed John to stay in the valley. Hopefully he is not too irritated with me for the publicity and award...
Donnie Priest
Alan Rubin

Oct 31, 2008 - 01:30pm PT
Jim, Even if John is annoyed, you did the right thing---recognition of his decades of accomplishments is long overdue---now maybe he'll finally decide what he wants to do when he grows up.....!!!!But then again, I guess we're in the same boat.

the gray bands
Oct 31, 2008 - 02:53pm PT
congratulations to John. an honor well deserved.
as an aside, the only reason I bought the latest Climbing mag was the article about Yosar.
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Oct 31, 2008 - 05:15pm PT
Alan - that wasn't Jim Donini who posted just above you, it's Donnie Priest...

I made the same mistake until I re-read his post (especially since Jim Donini posted in this related thread).

Here's a shot of John Dill and Donnie Priest at the event, posted by the SF Gate user, sfxpatriot:

(it's the ninth post on the page)
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 31, 2008 - 05:59pm PT
Good work, Donnie.


I have always enjoyed your story of John Dill and the mystery of the disappearing ice cream bars. (At least I think it was you who told it to me).

Trad climber
Mill Valley, CA
Nov 16, 2008 - 09:38pm PT
John also has a good sense of humor. I remember hitching a ride to Fresno with him, must have been about 1981. I had a few hours to kill before getting on the Greyhound. It was very hot and we decided to go see "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in an airconditioned movie theater. As I recall, John offered rather magnanamously to supply a snack durning the film and he smuggled a grocery bag into the theater under his shirt.

As the movie got started he wipped out a big bag of carrots and we proceeded to crunch them much to the annoyance of everyone around us.
Sir loin of leisure...

Trad climber
Nov 16, 2008 - 10:22pm PT
we fondly called him uncle johnny..

Social climber
El Portal
Nov 16, 2008 - 11:38pm PT
This is great news and about ding/dang time!


"Great tranquillity of the heart is his who cares neither for praise nor blame"

I cannot seem to stop smiling as I read this thread.

Jo W.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
Nov 17, 2008 - 12:55am PT
Didn't John Dill refer to Yosemite Valley as the "valley of lost souls?"
A profound and cogent observation.
John Yates

Trad climber
Redding, CA
Nov 17, 2008 - 01:21pm PT
Congratulations to John, he is well deserving of the Honor. I had the pleasure to work for John back in 1980 and 82 when I was a ranger in Yosemite. He let me use his sewing machine in the rescue cash to make and repair climbing gear(after I fixed the machine). I helped John that summer do some of his first testing on use of tandem prussic's in rescue, spawning my interest in testing and developing equipment for climbing and rescue. Hats off to one of the brightest and most humble men I have ever met. I truly unique person. He is also the only guy I have ever met that eats more carrots than my horse!
John Yates/Yates Gear Inc.

Nov 17, 2008 - 01:37pm PT
John Dill: the right man for the job if there ever was one.

Made other good use of his time in the Valley of delight (pretty good picture-taker, for example).

Boulder climber
May 11, 2016 - 07:43pm PT
climber bob

Social climber
May 14, 2016 - 07:24am PT
only met him once. about 1980 I was working at Homewood ski area in Tahoe doing lift morning after opening the lifts a co worker and I were headed to the cafeteria for coffee. we see a Yosemite park pick up truck pull in. the night before I had been reading downward bound and had read about this John Dill I say to my coworker off the cuff "hey , its Yosemite climbing ranger John Dill". the dude gets out of the truck ,walks up to me and introduces himself..."hi, i'm Yosemite climbing ranger John Dill"...I still can hardly believe that happened
ron gomez

Trad climber
May 14, 2016 - 07:35am PT
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