Using helicopters in search-and-rescue missions in the national parks can be tricky, particularly when the rescue involves flying close to towering granite walls. That was the case recently in Yosemite National Park, where a helicopter helped rescue a hiker who had fallen into a raging section of Upper Yosemite Fall.
According to park officials, the 22-year-old California man and three friends were on a backpack trip and on their return to the Yosemite Valley floor on May 28 they stopped at the Middle Cascade at the base of Upper Yosemite Fall.
"The young man fell into the water while reaching for his sunglasses and was swept several hundred feet through the 675-foot-high Middle Cascade into an eddy in a pool of water, where he was able to climb onto a large boulder in the middle of the cascade," said park spokeswoman Kari Cobb. "Immediately upon receiving the call, a Yosemite search and rescue team was dispatched to the location of the incident along the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail. At the same time, the park’s contract helicopter was ordered out for a reconnaissance flight. With members of the initial ground team acting as spotters from the edge of the gorge, the helicopter inserted Ranger Ed Visnovske via short haul to the man’s location. He was found to be slightly hypothermic, but otherwise uninjured. Visnovske and the man were then short hauled to Yosemite Valley, where the man declined medical treatment."