Climber injured in Sentinel Descent Gully

July 13, 2012 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On the afternoon of June 20, 2012, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received report of a 32-year-old male climber who'd taken a tumbling fall while descending the Sentinel Rock Gully after climbing the Steck-Salathe route. The patient was complaining of head, neck, and back pain in the thoracic area. His partner had hiked down the gully to call for help. Several SAR team members were sent as a hasty team to locate the patient, with two others close behind with a litter and vacuum body splint (a device used for spinal immobilization). After the SAR team members arrived on scene, it was determined that the terrain was too loose and hazardous to perform a carryout or lowering operation and that a short-haul operation would be the most appropriate means of extraction. The patient, who spoke very little English, was packaged into the litter, and extracted by a short-haul qualified ranger and the park helicopter. He was flown to Ahwahnee Meadow where a medical helicopter was waiting to take the patient to a trauma center.

Although the way down after a technical climb may involve relatively easy scrambling or hiking, a hiking trail can be as treacherous as the climbing route itself, should the climber's attention stray. Whether a climber or a hiker, be sure to focus on what you're doing on the way up, as well as on the way down (especially if you're off trail).

 Ranger dangles from a helicopter (not seen) while short-hauling a patient.
Climbing ranger Jesse McGahey and patient being short-hauled by helicopter to Ahwahnee Meadow. (NPS photo by Todd Bartlow)

5 Comments Comments icon

  1. September 05, 2012 at 07:19

    I highly recommend the book, "Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite", written by Ghiglieri and Farabee. A highly informative book of all known deaths (from various reasons) and quite a few non-fatal rescues. About to return to Yosemite for an annual, Fall backpacking trip for which I re-read the book to focus my planning to be prepared for how serious the wilderness can be. Thank you, YOSAR! I pray and prepare that I never require your assistance.

  2. August 06, 2012 at 05:01

    Visitors of the Park need to be aware that this is not a Theme Park. This is real life and you have to make wise decisions or your life and the rescuers life could be endangered. I've seen situations where I have to just look away from the poor decisions being made as I do not care to witness the possible results.

  3. July 17, 2012 at 01:12

    Impressive that with the limited resources you have that all this can still happen to keep us safe in our parks.

  4. July 17, 2012 at 01:08

    I agree with Hillary. Glad the search and rescue teams are top notch.

  5. July 16, 2012 at 10:50

    Very glad to see that search and rescue reports are being shared; not only can it be helpful to visitors to Yosemite and the surrounding area to learn about hiking and climbing safety, but it's interesting too!

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Last updated: July 13, 2012

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