SELECTED RESCUES - YOSAR responded to 250 calls in 2008


11-10 to 11-12-08 - Major Search for Missing Backpacker
A solo backpacker became stranded for twelve days in a remote area of the Yosemite high country, snowed in by a signifcant winter storm. With a search area of 400 square miles, YOSAR ground, air, and investigative personnel tried to locate the starving backpacker.

Frazier's SOS distress signal stomped into the snow and lined with tree boughs, as seen from the rescue helicopter before landing and evacuating him. NPS photo.


9-10-08 - Missing Motorcyclist Found Deceased - Highway 41
A man reported as overdue from a motorcycle ride was found deceased with his wrecked motorcycle below Highway 41 south of the Wawona Tunnel.


9-9-08 - Hiker Fatality - John Muir Trail / Ice Cut
A man died suddenly while hiking on the John Muir Trail near the "Ice Cut," between Vernal and Nevada Falls. While other hikers performed CPR, rescuer teams responded by trail-running and heli-rappelling to the scene. The man was pronounced dead on scene. Heart attack is suspected.


9-7-08 - Stranded Solo Climber/Hiker - Five Open Books
A solo hiker/climber became stranded on the climbing route "Hanging Teeth (5.8)," in the "Five Open Books" area of Yosemite Valley, near Yosemite Falls. Apparently, the man started up the route without any climbing equipment (free-soloing) after underestimating the technical nature of the route. Rescuers climbed to his position and set up a rappel for him to descend.


9-6-08 - Air Evacuation of Possible Cardiac - Illilouette Fall
A man complaining of shortness of breath, nausea, and weakness at the top of Illilouette Fall was evacuated by park helicopter 551. A combined trail and air response enabled the patient to be rapidly evacuated to definitive care.


8-31-08 - Laborious Labor Day Sunday for YOSAR
YOSAR responded to several significant calls throughout Labor Day Weekend 2008. The busiest day was Sunday, 8-31:


* 8-31-08 - Man Falls into Inner Gorge of Yosemite Falls
A man navigating off-trail along the Inner Gorge of Yosemite Falls (the steep slick-rock slot canyon of Yosemite Creek between the base of Upper Fall and the top of Lower Fall) fell, sustaining substantial trauma to his face, chest, and legs. Rescue teams climbed and rappelled to the patient's location and stabilized him for air transport. He was short-hauled from the scene to an Air Ambulance for rapid transport to difinitive care.


* 8-31-08 - Lead-Climber Fall - Church Bowl
A climber leading near the Church Bowl Tree fell, pulled protection, and sustained head and leg injuries. More information will follow as it becomes available.


* 8-31-08 - Off-Route Climbers Ledged Out - Sunnyside Bench
Two climbers found themselves stranded about 300 feet off the ground on the rock buttress just east of Yosemite Falls (Sunnyside Bench) after apparently climbing the wrong route. Rescuers climbed above the stranded climbers via another route, installed bolt anchors, and rappelled down to them.


* 8-31-08 - Hiker Carried Out from Mist Trail
A woman suffering from back spasms was carried out from the Mist Trail. Although less publicized than other types of rescues, this type of call is among the most common YOSAR responds to each year.


8-30-08 - Hiker Loses Trail, Becomes Stranded - Four Mile Trail
In an uncannily similar incident, another unrelated hiker found himself stranded in the same area off the Four Mile Trail. He was led to safety after he yelled for help. Both hikers appear to have followed social side-trails above Union Point into heavy brush and steep terrain.


8-29-08 - Hiker Loses Trail, Becomes Stranded - Four Mile Trail
A day-hiker on the Four Mile Trail above Union Point lost the trail and became stranded in the cliff bands west of the trail. Exhausted and disoriented, he called for help on his cell phone and was guided safely back to the trail.


8-14-08 - Numerous Rescues Throughout Yosemite
All districts of the park had a high emergency call load throughout the day, in both the front- and backcountries, including emergency air operations in the Tuolumne area, a carry-out for an injured hiker on the 4-Mile Trail, and several emergent ambulance transports, among others.


8-1-08 - Emergency Short-Haul Evacuations - Telegraph Fire
On July 25, 2008 a large, fast moving, wild land fire erupted in the Merced River Canyon just west of Yosemite National Park. The fire, named the Telegraph Fire, threatened 2000 homes in the Mariposa area including those of many park employees. The fire closed Highway 140 and burned over power lines, darkening the park. YOSAR participated as a cooperating agency doing traffic control and non-fire ground support. Additionally, Yosemite’s helicopter was assigned to the Telegraph Fire as an air medical helicopter. YOSAR rescue team members were utilized twice to short-haul firefighters who had become heat exhausted during the fire fighting efforts.

A Type I helicopter drops retardant while Yosemite Rescue personnel fly to their heli-rappel / short-haul site.


8-7-08 - Short-Haul Evacuation of Injured Child - Emerald Pool
A 12-year-old sustained serious injury after falling down the Silver Apron. She was rescued using short-haul. Report and photos.

H551 short-hauls rescuer and patient back to the Awahnee Meadow.


UPDATE: 6-8-08 - The Search for Esmin Garmendia
Full report and photos from the four-day major ground and air search for Esmin Garmendia in the Washburn Point / Glacier Point area.

Recent Update: 10-12-07 - Serious Climber Injury / Church Bowl
A climber on top-rope was lowered off the end of the rope. This report includes a first-hand account and analysis of the chain of events that led to serious injury.


11-11-07 - Climber Fatality / Cathedral Peak
A long awaited, in-depth and first-hand account of the tragic weather-related mountaineering death of Peter Noble near Cathedral Peak in Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows, November 2007. A detailed climber's account of the incident is followed by analysis from YOSAR's best SAR gurus.

Mutual Aid to Search for Missing Hiker - Madera County
67-year-old Fresno resident James Arthur has been missing in the Sierra National Forest, immediately south of Yosemite, since he went for a day hike on Monday, July 28.


8-6-08 - The search for James Arthur has been scaled back after a week of intense searching. All YOSAR resources assigned to the incident have returned to the park.


8-3-08 - The search for James Arthur continued today, with an active search area of about sixteen square miles. More than 100 personnel are assigned to the search, including several helicopters, ground teams, dog teams, and a large Incident Command Team. YOSAR has currently assigned a ground search team and several Command staff members to the effort.


8-2-08 - YOSAR has joined in the multi-agency search effort that, as of Saturday August 2, employed numerous air and ground resources.


8-2-08 - Helicopter Rescue of Hiker - Sunset Area
A hiker suffering from symptoms indicative of a heart attack was evacuated from near the Sunset High Sierra Camp with the aid of the park contract helicopter. Helicopter 551 was diverted from the mutual aid search mission on the Sierra National Forest, south of the park, to carry out the rescue. The patient was evacuated to Crane Flat helibase where she was transfered to an air ambulance and flown to definitive care.


7-29-08 - Half Dome Fatality
Yosemite Dispatch received multiple 911 phone calls from visitors mid-afternoon reporting that a man had apparently jumped from the summit of Half Dome. Two Little Yosemite Valley rangers and three Valley Rangers were dispatched to the area to interview witnesses and check the base. After ascending the "Death Slabs" approach to the base of Half Dome, a deceased subject was located. Following an investigation and recovery operation, the deceased's remains were long lined by helicopter from the site. Follow-up investigation is underway.


7-29-08 - Car Off the Road with Injuries - Hwy 41
A car full of people traveling on Highway 41 near Wawona drove off the roadway and tumbled more than 100 feet down a steep grade. Steep, difficult slopes complicated rescuers' attempts to free the trapped occupants. Three of the four people were transported from the scene, one by Air Ambulance with serious injuries.


7-21-08 – Severely Injured Hiker at Emerald Pool
A man hiking on the Silver Apron (the large polished rock slabs on the Merced River just upstream of Vernal Fall) lost his footing and took a sliding fall into Emerald Pool. Upon landing in Emerald Pool, he hit boulders below the water surface which caused at least three independent, open leg fractures. SAR team members were immediately dispatched from the Yosemite Valley. Due to the severity of the man's injuries, he was short-hauled from the area to Awahnee Meadow by the park’s contract helicopter, then transported out of the park via Air Ambulance.


7-18-08 - Helicopter Rescue of Climber - El Cap: The Nose
A climber was badly injured while climbing the Nose of El Capitan, requiring a helicopter rescue. More information about this rescue will appear shortly.


7-14-08 – Search for Child Missing from Mist Trail
At 7:45pm the family of an 11-year-old boy reported that they had become separated from him at 6:30pm near the Vernal Fall bathroom in the Mist Trail/John Muir Trail corridor. Two family members searched for the boy in the immediate area and then descended to Yosemite Valley thinking he had probably hiked out on his own. Following an interview with the family members, NPS SAR resources were launched to locate the missing boy. CAL-ESAR units that were in the park at the time of the incident were also deployed. Trail block teams, bicycle and vehicle patrol teams, and hiking teams were all deployed to search the front- and backcountry areas. The missing boy was found, unharmed, at 10:20pm near the Vernal Fall Footbridge. He had been on an adjacent trail known as the “horse trail cut-off” when he spotted the light of a searcher hiking up the John Muir Trail. The boy hurried through a boulder field in the dark (he did not have a flashlight) to get the attention of the searcher. The boy explained that he had become disoriented and returned to look for his family, but turned the wrong direction on a trail. He apparently hiked over 5 miles round trip to the Nevada Fall bathroom and back while looking for his family. Rescuers hiked with the boy to the trailhead where he was reunited with his family.


7-11-08 – Air Evacuation of Backpacker - Lyell Fork of Merced
A backcountry patrol unit came across a 53-year-old female hiker on the Lyell Fork of the Merced Canyon who was experiencing severe ankle pain. The ankle pain was not associated with a traumatic injury, but she was nevertheless unable to walk any further. After 16 hours of rest she still had debilitating ankle pain. Due to her remote location, she was flown by helicopter the following day to the Crane Flat helibase for further evaluation.


7-4-08 - Response to Hang Glider Crash - Leideg Meadow
On July 4th 2008 the Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue team responded to a report of a hang glider that had crashed into the Muir Tree in Leideg Meadow. The pilot apparently snagged the tree on his final approach to a landing. The hang glider came to rest 100 feet above the ground precariously perched in the tree branches. Although the pilot was unhurt he was unable to extricate himself from the harness and free himself. YOSAR personnel along with members of the Yosemite Fire Department worked to secure the pilot to prevent the gusting winds from dislodging the glider and dropping the pilot. Once the pilot was secured YOSAR climbers disengaged the pilot from the glider and lowered him to the ground. The glider was then removed without incident.


6-13-08 - Injured Climber - East Buttress, Middle Cathedral Rock
Report and photos from evacuation of climber injured in a lead fall from Middle Cathedral Rock.


The twelve person rescue team climbs through the lower portion of the ascent route.


6-13-08 - Lost Hikers - Cliff Bands Above Tenaya Canyon
Yosemite Dispatch received a 911 call from two hikers that were ledged out above Tenaya Canyon and were requesting help. A Park Ranger was able to contact them on their cell phone and learned that they had intended to hike from Olmstead Point to Mirror Lake via the Snow Creek Trail. During their hike they lost the trail and became cliffed-out above Tenaya Canyon, no longer being able to descend. The missing party had a GPS-enabled cell phone and when they placed a 911 phone call Yosemite Dispatch was able to determine their location, which appeared to be in the cliff bands between Mountain Watkins and Snow Creek switchbacks. Helicopter 551 was launched to determine their location for evacuation the following day. Once spotted, a safe landing zone was found and the hikers were extracted that evening before sunset.


6-12-08 - Fatal Fall on El Capitan / North American Wall
Two climbers descending along the base of El Capitan near the Alcove reported seeing a deceased subject. Rangers were dispatched to investigate, and quickly located the subject near the climber's base trail below the Alcove. It appeared as though the man fell to his death from to top of El Capitan. The fall was un-witnessed.


6-9-08 – Swiftwater Rescue at Mirror Lake
While the Garmendia Search (see above) was in full swing, YOSAR received a report of a visitor stranded on a rock in the middle of the rapids above Mirror Lake. The visitor was attempting to cross Tenaya Creek when she was swept downstream by the strong current. She was washed down to a boulder mid-stream and was able to pull herself out of the frigid water and onto the rock. The swiftwater rescue team and the Yosemite Fire Department were able to safely return her safely to shore.


6-8-08 – Rescue of Injured Hiker at Taft Point
A woman hiking along the south rim of the Yosemite Valley sustained an ankle injury and was no longer able to hike under her own power. A rescue team carried the patient out on a litter to the Glacier Point Road.


6-7-08 – Evacuation from Lower Yosemite Fall
A visitor slipped and fell while walking on wet rocks near Lower Yosemite Fall and dislocated his shoulder. He was assisted down to the road and transported to the Medical Clinic where his shoulder dislocation was reduced (put back in place).


6-3-08 - Air Evacuation of Critically Ill Day Hiker / Half Dome
A hiker on the Half Dome Trail just below the Sub Dome experienced seizures and altered mental status. A rapid air evacuation was carried out for the critically ill hiker.


5-27-08 – Hiker Injured While Avoiding Rock Fall
While hiking along the Four Mile Trail, a hiker injured his knee and bruised his pelvis while attempting to escape falling rock. He avoided the rockfall by leaping down a switchback, but unfortunately injured himself in the process. A rescue team came to his assistance and carried him down to the valley floor in a litter. The Four Mile Trail was closed until further geological evaluation could be preformed. The trail has since been deemed safe and reopened.


5-27-08 - Injured Climber Rescued by Helicopter from El Cap
After spending several days on the Salathe Wall of El Cap, a climber was rescued using short-haul with the park contract helicopter. A full report will follow.

The climbing party waits on Long Ledge for the YOSAR rescue team to reach them. Photo by Dave Pope.

H-551 touching down with Ranger Michener and the injured climber after a successful short-haul mission. Photo by Dave Pope.

Injured climber hobbles to a waiting ambulance, four days after his injury. 


5-24-08 – Lost Hikers Rescued in Snow Storm
A pair of hikers became lost while attempting to hike along the north rim of Yosemite Valley, from Snow Creek to the Yosemite Falls Trail. They lost the trail due to extreme fog and several inches of fresh snow dusting the ground. A group of searchers began hiking up the Yosemite Falls Trail around 6pm and located the hikers near Indian Canyon. The lost hikers were led safely to the valley floor by around 2am.


5-15-08 - Climber with Serious Head Injury / El Cap
A climber on the Nose sustained life-threatening head injuries after a leader fall, requiring air rescue. 


5-18-08 - A Busy Day for YOSAR
Summer weather is here, and so is our summer call-load. Yosemite Search and Rescue responded to 5 rescue incidents on the afternoon of 5/18/2008. Twenty five rescue personnel were deployed on these missions.

1:45pm - A person on the John Muir Trail sprained their ankle. A rescuer on a horse was sent to the injured person to bring them back to the Valley floor.

2:30pm - A man swimming in the Merced River near Camp Six day use parking began to panic as he was swept into the current. He managed to haul himself out of the water on an island in the middle of the river, but started to slip into an altered level of consciousness due to hypothermia. He was warmed on the scene and carried back across the river to safety.

3:00pm - A hiker injured their ankle about 1.5 miles up the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. A rescue team was sent up to carry the patient out in a litter.

3:15pm - A man with an altered level of consciousness was reported on the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. Rescuers responded to the scene and found that the patient was feeling better after eating some food and hydrating. He refused assistance.

4:45pm - A woman on the Mist Trail near Nevada Falls was reported to be dehydrated and exhausted. Three rescuers were sent to assist her. After resting she felt that she would be able to walk down under her own power with assistance from the rescue team.


5-15-08 – Tree Failure Injures Two Visitors
At the Lower Yosemite Fall foot bridge, a tree fell and injured two people. A Park Ranger began treatment of both patients, neither of whom was suffering from life-threatening injuries at that time. Care was transferred to a Nurse Practitioner and Paramedic from Yosemite Medical Clinic. One patient suffered a broken thumb and fractures of the left radius, along with abrasions of the left arm and upper chest. The other patient was flown by Air-Med to a hospital for definitive care after sustaining a shattered right scapula and a broken left ankle.


5-9-08 – Climber Assisted Off of Half Dome
A woman became stranded at the top of the first pitch of the Regular Route of the Northwest Face on Half Dome after jugging a fixed line to flee from a bear. She had been waiting at the base while her friends were climbing the Regular Route when a bear came into her camp and began sniffing her food, which was suspended in a tree. The bear frightened her, so she jugged the line, but once she attempted to rappel she realized that the 30 feet of snow piled on the bottom of the fixed rope made it too tight to apply a rappel device to the rope. After requesting assistance, three technical rescuers hiked to the base and set up a new line for her to rappel on. Park regulations require that all food be stored in bear-proof canisters or boxes during overnight stays in the backcountry.


5-8-08 – School Bus Accident - Mass-Casualty Incident
Emergency response resources from throughout the park and surrounding agencies were dispatched to the Big Oak Flat Road (Hwy 120) near the intersection with Hwy 140 after two school buses full of children collided. Several passengers were transported to surrounding hospitals with minor injuries. The park's Mass-Casualty Incident Response Plan was implemented during the incident, with a large and rapidly-evolving Incident Command System.


5-7-08 – Carry Out from Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
A visitor was hiking down the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail when she slipped and fell above Columbia Point, injuring her left ankle. A team of rescuers hiked up to her location and carried her down on a litter. She was transported to the Medical Clinic for further evaluation.


5-6-08 - Carry Out from Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
A Park Medic was dispatched up the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail to a hiker just below Columbia Point after she lost consciousness. The report was that she had regained consciousness, but was not fully alert. A litter team was sent up to carry the patient down the trail. She was later transported to the Medical Clinic for further treatment.


4-18-08 - Fatal Small Plane Crash Near Yosemite
A small plane crashed in a remote area just outside of Yosemite's northern boundary, killing both occupants.


2-7-08 - Parkwide Medical Emergencies
February 7th was a busy day for Yosemite Emergency Medical Services. Park EMS personnel and ambulances reponded first to a critical patient in respiratory distress at the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station around 9:30am. In the early afternoon, a woman suffering from a possible heart attack on the Glacier Point ski trail was evacuated from Badger Pass. Just before 4:00pm a man skiing at Badger Pass possibly broke his femur. He was evacuated from the hill by Badger Pass Ski Patrol and transported from the resort by Med Flight helicopter using an improvised landing spot.


2-4 to 2-5-08 - Search for Missing Snowboarders
After three snowboarders failed to show up for their pickup in Yosemite West, YOSAR launched a large two-day search effort, involving more than 65 ground and air resources. After traveling more than four miles through deep snow and treacherous terrain, all three snowboarders were found in good health at the bottom of the South Fork Canyon of the Merced River and evacuated by helicopter

Friends of YOSAR 501(c) 54-208 1466

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