ElCap Report 5/19/13

ElCap Report 5/19/13

By Tom Evans


Yo… it started out a beautiful spring day.  The three person mixed team on the Nose did the King Swing and was motoring along when I left.  There was a team on the Salathe that was doing well too.  I saw a wall team from yesterday climbing above Camp 5 this morning.

I arrived at the Bridge around 9:20am and was immediately approached by Ranger Ben Doyle who had reported that a call for help had come in from a party high on ElCap.  I set up my instruments and viewed the scene… I was horrified to say the least, and I will not go into any details at this time as an investigation is underway.  One of the team was killed in a fall.  Yosemite Search and Rescue immediately swung into action and did a “from the top” extraction of the deceased climber and is presently evacuating the surviving partner.  In all my 18 years of photographing climbers on ElCap I have never seen such a awful and terrible scene. 

I could write more but just don’t have the heart to do so right now.  I will let you know more later….. condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased climber.   I am not at liberty to share any names and further details at this time. 

This brief report is in NO WAY a reflection of the opinions of any governmental or private agency and is strictly My OPINION.


So that’s the way it is, this 19th day of May, 2013.

A day of great sadness that will haunt our memories for a long time. 

Tom Evans

Next day.... I talked with the surviving member of the team Marc Venery, who said that his partner, Mason Robison, was climbing about 20ft above him, when he weighted a cam that pulled out when it dislogged a large block.  As he fell, the block cut his climbing rope and he fell to the end of the haul line (a static rope) and died instantly.  YOSAR performed brilliantly and the operation was over well before dark.  I will write an analysis of the accident on tomorrows ElCap Report.


Saturday rescue

My son and I were below the nose on Saturday. I heard some yelling. When the helicopter showed up I feared something was wrong. As the day progressed and I learned more, I suspected it was bad. I'm kind of glad we didn't stop to look thru your telescope Tom. I have been played out what happened over and over in my mind. But really didn't need more details to fill in the gap.

My heartfelt prayers and blessings to the second climber and the family and friends of the lost soul. Please find comfort in knowing he died doing what he loved, in a special place, on a hallowed piece of rock, in the throne room of the mountain gods.

We take risks not to escape life but to prevent life from escaping us.
Jim Michler

Our friend, who was on belay,

Our friend, who was on belay, is now in his car having to drive himself 2 day trip to home, to his family and his friend's family. Safe journey home friend. In sadness and grief for your friend and his family!

A verfy sad day.

Condolences to all involved.


fallen climber

I am a friend of the climber who died yesterday on El cap. We grew up together and his older brother and I were best friends since we were in Kindergarten. His older brother also died in an ice climbing accident in Glacier Park about 15 years ago. His mother will need any and all prayers as she has now lost two sons to this sport.

so sorry

I am so sorry for your loss. I was there watching the horrific scene yesterday and kept hoping that he was just badly injured and in a coma. I am sad to hear that he didn't make it and am devastated to know that his mother had already lost another son to climbing...so sad :( My condolences to all who knew and loved him.

re:fallen climber

We witnessed the rescue as we were leaving the park, on an otherwise beautiful afternoon. Please extend condolences and our warmest thoughts to the mother of this young man. As a mother myself, I cannot imagine her pain.


We happened upon the tragic accident on our way out of Yosemite yesterday. My son and his wife are climbers from Bonsall and have considered trying some climbs in Yosemite. We shared a heartfelt conversation about what we observed at El Cap during our 6 hour drive home. I am scared for my son and his wife, but they have such passion for their sports, surfing and climbing. This horrific accident has served as a painful reminder that in all endeavors we must take every precaution to ensure the safety of ourselves and those depending on us for a safe climb.
Our most sincere condolences and prayers go out to the families and friends of the climbers. I have such a profound respect for the search and rescue team, as they were phenomenal in their efforts yesterday.

thinking of you, tom, and thank you

hey there say, tom... prayers to you, as to dealing with this awful event...
condolences to the family and loved ones of the climber...

i have just learned hat i have much to be thankful for, concerning my brother,
from the rest of the story that i read, elsewhere, and i will
continue to use that thankfulness to pray for the family and friends that
lost their loved one...

thank you for the shares that you do, to help folks see where their buddies
are, on the rocks and thank you for doing it in a well and kind manner...
god bless... you are not forgotten when you accidentally come across these
awful accidents, or must witness such... sincerely, neebee...

May 19

For all you the good do with your photography, it is a shame for you to happen upon this with your lens.

Much anguish is felt by anyone has to witness such a horrible scene. I have one or two permanently sculptured mental scars myself, although they are not climbing related. I am sure multitudes of people share the same fate.

Thanks for the service you provide and hopefully something like this won't be repeated.

Prayers and condolences to those families of the climbers and blessings to those involved in the recovery and rescue efforts.

thank you Tom

Thank you Tom for your faithful reporting of an exhilarating and dangerous sport.

You are not alone.

What a thing to witness. Horrible for all involved. You'll be in our thoughts as well when we send love and prayers toward the partner, family, and friends of of the deceased.

Sad Day

I am so sorry Tom. No one needs to witness such a thing, let alone be a part of it. My deepest condolences to the family and friends, to the partner of the climber and... To anyone who is effected. It is only an extreme few who can walk away from death untouched. Even my husband who is a surgeon has to give himself a pause even though he sees it often in his line of work.