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Three Climbers Rescued on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park

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Date: December 14, 2010

Technical Rescue was a Multi-Agency Effort

Three rock climbers were rescued yesterday afternoon from the wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, culminating a two day rescue operation. Sarah Land, 24 from Oakhurst, California, Walker Mackey, 25, and Rio Mackey, 23, both from Boulder, Colorado were lowered down the wall of the 7,563 foot granite monolith after spending the night on the wall of El Capitan. Walker and Rio were not injured and Land sustained moderate injuries.

National Park Service Rangers were assisted in the technical rescue effort by and Army National Guard Chinook helicopter from Stockton, California, a California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter from Auburn, California, and a private helicopter from Columbia, California.

At 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 12, Yosemite Emergency Communication Center received a call from Land asking for assistance. While climbing, an approximately a 200 pound rock dislodged and struck Land. At first, they attempted to finish the climb. However, due to Land’s injuries, she called back at approximately 2:30 p.m. and asked Yosemite National Park Rangers for assistance. With daylight dwindling, Park Rangers were not able to bring in a helicopter or initiate the rescue and the trio were forced to spend the night on the wall.

On Monday morning, Yosemite National Park contacted the Law Enforcement Division of the California Emergency Management Agency seeking assistance in the rescue effort. They contacted the Army National Guard, who dispatched a Chinook helicopter to Yosemite Valley to assist in the rescue efforts. The military helicopter transported rescue personnel to the top of El Capitan, where National Park Rangers Matt Stark and Chris Bellino were lowered to the injured climbers. Once the Rangers were with the climbers, the group was lowered to the base of El Capitan. A CHP helicopter then short-hauled Land to El Capitan Meadow where she was transported out of Yosemite Valley.

Completing the rescue mission on Monday was critical due to dwindling weather conditions, including fog covering Yosemite Valley and impending snowfall at the higher elevations. Over 30 Yosemite National Park Rangers, Yosemite Search and Rescue Team Members, and others assisted in this complex technical rescue, putting their lives at risk to rescue the climbers.

Yosemite National Park extends gratitude to the Law Enforcement Division of the California Emergency Management Agency, the Army National Guard, the California Highway Patrol, and Intermountain Helicopters for their assistance in this rescue effort.

Did You Know?

American black bear

Black bears in Yosemite are active both day and night. Most bears that rely on natural food sources are active during the day. However, those that get food from people are often active at night, when they can quietly sneak around and grab unattended food. More...