El Capitan climber rescued during snow storm

-- NPSOctober 26, 2012 

Yosemite National Park Rangers and Search and Rescue Personnel completed a high angle, high risk rescue on El Capitan, in Yosemite Valley, Monday, Oct. 22, in which a stranded Canadian climber was at risk for hypothermia. The summit of El Capitan, 7,569 feet above sea level, is the largest granite monolith in the world.

Two rock climbers began ascending a climbing route, known as the Muir Wall, on El Capitan on Monday, Oct. 14. The party was due to reach the top of the climb Sunday, Oct. 21, just before a large storm, with several inches of snow, was predicted. The lead climber, a 24-year old male from Ontario, Canada, reached the summit just before midnight on Sunday night. The second climber, a 40-year old male from British Columbia, Canada, was forced to spend the night approximately 230 feet below the summit due to impending bad weather and a stuck climbing rope.

Around 2 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22, the 40-year old climber attempted to deploy a rainfly over his portaledge to provide shelter from the rain/snow. During his attempt he slipped out of his portaledge and fell approximately 15 feet down the face of the rock. He was able to ascend his rope and secure himself back to the portaledge, but was unable to properly erect the rainfly. During the night, the area received approximately four to six inches of snow with temperatures in the 20s.

Yosemite Park Rangers were notified Monday. Due to unfavorable weather, the park could not secure a helicopter to assist in the rescue and instead deployed ground teams to respond. Park Rangers Aaron Smith and Ben Doyle, and Search and Rescue crew member Matt Othmer hiked to the summit to rescue the climber. Smith was lowered to the climber, who was suffering from exhaustion and mild hypothermia. Smith attached ropes to the climber, and then ascended the ropes back to the summit. Using a mechanical system of pulleys, the team hoisted the climber to safety.

The climber was transported to a local hospital and is in good condition.

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