Special Edition ElCap Rescue 9/26/11

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…..
Later Tom


Well Deserved!

Glad to see the rescuers recieve the Valor Award from the Department of the Interior for their gutsy work yesterday, May 8, 2014 in Washington DC. A very well deserved honor for them. Yosemite National Park is lucky to have such brave and dedicated employees.

YOSAR Rescue

Outstanding. Amazing job by the rescuers and huge KUDOS for excellent reporting and photography Tom.

El Cap Rescue

Hi very good rescue. I was standing at the Tunnel view waiting for the Sun to set and managed a few pictures of the rescue and could not believe how close the chopper was to the face the shadow was the same size as the chopper excellent flying indeed !! . I take it that most of these pictures were from the valley floor with the 800mm (exif says 50mm but pics look like they are from a long lens) I could get nowhere as close picture wise as my maximum was 300mm on a M4/3 so about 600mm in 35mm terms.
Cheers Bob
Actually Bob the shots were with a 500mm Canon FD L lens.  But with the APS sensor (1.6X) and the EOS to FD adapter (1.25X) it operates as 1000mm.  Plus I am able to crop in close as the lens retains it sharpness down to pixilation.
regards Tom

Hi Tom,Thanks for the info I

Hi Tom, Thanks for the info I have not seen a FD 500 for sale over this side of the pond for some time you do get the FD 400mm Marine Block lens sometimes you are doing a great job with the pictures. Below is a link of my feeble effort of a picture though it does show how close pilot Shatto was to the rock face judging by the shadow you are welcome to download the full version and give it to the pilot if you want.
Cheers Bob
Nice shot... hard to get great clarity from the distance you were away from the scene.  I got the 500mm FD on Ebay.  They always have some telephoto lenses for sale.  Also, the shots I took of the people on the wall were with the 500mm but the close up of the chopper and guys in the air were with a tamron 18-200 mm on a Sony 350 Alpha body.
regards Tom

breathtaking action

i have never before seen such a great long line-work.
good to know there are rescueteams like you in the world.

You Guys Rock!

Nice job and really stunning photos. You folks are just so brave. I'm glad there are people like you in the world willing to risk your own lives for others.

Rescue Team

Nicely done people! I'm proud of you efforts!
Taz, team member from the sevenities!

Way to Go SAR!

Fantastic account of a harrowing rescue! God bless the pilot for his courage and the stamina of the guys on the end of the rope! Thank you to the rest of the YOSAR team who arrive every time there's a need. You are appreciated.

Men who love their job!!!

Congrats to Shatto for his passion, commitment and insight.

Congrats, also, to the team involved. Mainly for trusting on someone proposing a crazy idea that worked so well.

Great job!

Kudos to all

Pushing things to where "things" haven't gone before. Well done and thank you! Richard... nice job on keeping your friend calm.

El Cap rescue

Richard...wow...that was some excellent pilot work...the photos are going around Sebastopol right now...you are doing some good stuff. Harry Polley


I just got guided to your site regarding the rescue. Unbelievable pictures mate. Well done and you critical ones out be thankful someone recorded the event. It highlights the courage of Search and Rescue people all around the world.
Cheers, Holdeen

Happened to be there

My wife and I happened to be in the valley relaxing in El Cap meadow while all this happened! It was impressive to watch YOSAR do their thing. Thanks for posting these great pictures.

what about the pilot!

no one ever says a word about the pilot of the helicopter who holds a hover with his blades just feet from the wall for over 20 min. nice job to Richard one of two guys flying in the park Tim Lyons

Along with that, what about

Along with that, what about the spotters? There are no short haulers and/or rappellers with out the highly skilled and professional spotters you are lucky to have in Yosemite.

Read it again...

Read it again... I mention the pilot and post his picture... as for the rest the list is very long and this article can't name them all... give me a break!

No one ever says a thing

No one ever says a thing about the multiple people whose lives are put at risk by those who feel compelled to put their own lives at risk.
You are so right... like all those hikers who go out on the trails and have to be rescued.  98% of rescues in Yosemite are hikers.  Thrill seekers!!  And what about those people who drive cars?  40,000 killed a year!  Damn those thrill seekers!!   Tom Evans

Wow, one lucky guy!!! So

Wow, one lucky guy!!! So glad you are back and writing the ElCap Report again. You do such a good job!!!


I follow the exciting drama of the captain (and dream of returning) throughout the el cap report season. The daily reports on who is well dressed, and the photos of my next favorite bivy spot.... But this is journalism! Thanks for the documentation Tom! And Thanks YOSAR and crew for being there to help! Hopefully you can get the follow up shot of the "thumbs up"!


This Virginia climber has always been impressed with YOSAR and pilots in Yosemite. I once saw them land some rangers at the top of Nevada falls in what I thought were very high winds to search for a guy who had washed over. That took a lot of guts and skill. This looks like it topped the one I saw. Well done! Those guys were really sticking their necks out to save one dude's hand mobility and maybe his life. I'm hoping the injured climber heals well and gets another shot at the Nose.

Tom, I just found your site and I can't thank you enough for all your work! Your pictures and commentary are awesome! For the last several days I've been transported to my favorite spot on earth every time I log on.

Wow! What can you say about *that*?

What an impressive effort captured in your amazing photo log. God bless those devoted rescue workers. Thank you, Tom, for sharing this with us.

Tragic, but very good ending

Great shots of the rescue Tom.

I have a little more respect for those SAR folks now.


Just a little more? Anyone

Just a little more? Anyone who takes part in high risk activity in the Park should be bowing at their feet! You couldn't pay me enough to do what they do. Awesome job Yosemite Helitack!

Amazing. How do you toss a

Amazing. How do you toss a bean bag with the prop wash? Well done SAR et al. Hope the injured recovers well and completely.

Awesome job to SAR!

Thanks for the great photos Tom. Glad all worked out!
Was that Deputy in one of the pics?
Cheers, OK Tony!
Yo Tony.. that was Deputy in the flesh!  Regards Tom

WOW... just wow.. what an

WOW... just wow.. what an excellent job by everyone involve!!

especially the pilot who was key to it all. one mistake and multiple lives lost.

glad it all came out fine!!!!