|Submitted by Tom Evans on Wed, 09/28/2011 - 00:03|
Special ElCap Report 9/26/11
By Tom Evans
Yo… Big rescue off the Captain in the late evening today. An Austrian took a fall on the pitch leading into Camp 5, on the Nose route, around 3:30 this afternoon. His aid sling pinched his right thumb off his hand as he fell. Fortunately, the severed digit landed on the ledge beside his partner, Richard Edelsbacher, who retrieved it. The initial story had Michael catching it with his other hand which would have lead to …. Wait for it.... wait for it!! You guessed it!! ........“Catch of the Day”.
Alas, not to be. Anyway they called European friends on their cell phone who then called a friend, Reinhold Hanus, who happened to be on top of Half Dome at the time. He coordinated the rescue with Yosemite Search and Rescue aka YOSAR. Ah yes… the ubiquitous cell phone… made the difference.
Waiting for help.
The rescue was on and YOSAR members from all over the valley rushed to the ElCap Meadow.
YOSAR members assembled in the Meadow.
Rescue chopper arriving at the scene.
Pilot Richard Shatto.
Some time lapsed as the afternoon soon turned to evening and it didn’t appear that a plan had been decided upon. Soon, however, Eric Gabriel, honchoing the operation, decided on the best course of action for the situation and the team swung into action.
Coordination meeting, Rangers Webb and Pope are in the dark flight suits.
I couldn’t believe it… they were going to send up Rangers Jeff Webb, and Dave Pope, on the end of a 150ft line hanging from the bottom of the NPS Fire chopper, and somehow have the climbers pull them into the belay! I have never seen such a mission on an EC rescue as the chopper would be awfully close to the face and it isn’t that easy to pull people hanging on a rope 30 or so feet into a stance. The late afternoon light was fading fast so they sent the chopper, flown brilliantly by Richard Shatto, up to take a look and judge if the wind conditions were within limits.
After the initial flight the Rangers were attached to the long line and the mission was on. The chopper lifted off and the men were soon riding the rocket to the face of ElCap! Impressive to say the least!
Riding the Rocket!
Richard and Michael watched intently as the chopper approached.
Soon the rangers were hanging alongside the precipice, getting ready for the move to the ledge.
They tossed a bean bag with a cord on it to the climbers but without success. After quite a bit of time passed they made the connection and were soon pulling hard on the line to get into the belay.
After considerable effort they were there on the ledge next to the climbers.
They applied first aid to the injured climber. It was decided that Dave would take the injured climber on the rope with him and be flown back to the meadow and Jeff would stay the night with Richard on the ledge and be hauled off tomorrow in the morning.
They lowered Dave and Richard off the ledge so as to not shock load the chopper.
The lower out.
In a few moments the men were in the landing pattern and made it to the ground safely.
He was treated again and sent off in the medical chopper and eventually ended up in SF General where his thumb was reattached and the most recent report is that it was a successful operation.
Dressing the wound before the flight to the hospital.
So there you have it sports fans… another big one goes down in the books for the best of the best in the rescue business.
So that’s the way it went and that’s the way it is…..