Miserable Weather Makes for Tough Climbing Rescue in Yosemite National Park
Rescue missions can be tough in the best of weather, but when three climbers are safely plucked from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park amid deteriorating weather, you just have to tip your hat to the climbing rangers and helicopter pilots for getting the job done.
The rescue started late Sunday morning when park officials got word that a 24-year-old climber, Sarah Land, of Oakhurst, California, had received a glancing blow from a falling boulder estimated to weigh about 200 pounds. At first the young woman and her companions -- Walker Mackey, 25, and Rio Mackey, 23, both of Boulder, Colorado -- tried to finish the climb to the top of the 7,563-foot granite wall, according to a park report of the incident.
However, due to Ms. Land’s unspecified injuries, she called back at approximately 2:30 p.m. Sunday and asked for assistance. With daylight dwindling, Yosemite's rangers were not able to bring in a helicopter or initiate the rescue and the trio was forced to spend the night on the wall.
On Monday morning, amid foggy conditions and the threat of snow, Yosemite officials contacted the Law Enforcement Division of the California Emergency Management Agency to seek assistance in the rescue effort. They contacted the Army National Guard, which 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 park rangers Matt Stark and Chris Bellino were lowered to the climbers, according to a park release.
Once the rangers were with the climbers, the group was lowered to the base of El Capitan. A California Highway Patrol helicopter then short-hauled Ms. Land to El Capitan Meadow where she was transported out of Yosemite Valley.
Park officials did not have details on the extent of the woman's injuries, other than to describe them as moderate. Her companions were not hurt.
More than 30 Yosemite rangers, Yosemite Search and Rescue team members, and others assisted in this complex technical rescue.