Rescue crews equipped with a helicopter plucked an injured climber from the face of Sentinel Rock last week. The following account was posted on the National Park Service’s Morning Report:


Yosemite National Park Injured Climber Rescued From Sentinel Rock
  June 17, 2014

On Tuesday, June 17th, dispatch received a 911 call from an injured rock climber at the base of the Chounard-Herbert climbing route on Sentinel Rock in Yosemite Valley, Calif. The climber, a 30-year-old man from Bend, Oregon, said that he’d taken a 35-foot fall on the first pitch of the route, that he’d suffered injuries to his lower extremities, and that he was unable to self-rescue.

A ground response team consisting of Yosemite Search and Rescue team members Everett Phillips, Matt Othmer, Ken Kreis and Buck Yedor was dispatched to the scene. The park’s contract helicopter was also ordered for a reconnaissance flight and potential short haul mission.

Following a reconnaissance flight, the helicopter lowered rangers Jack Hoeflich and David Pope and their extrication equipment via short haul to a ledge approximately 250 feet below the injured climber. Hoeflich climbed to the man and fixed ropes for Pope and additional ground responders.

The team, including Hoeflich, Pope and SAR personnel, packaged the injured man in a litter and lowered him with Pope back to the insertion ledge. The helicopter returned and short-hauled Pope and the man to the Ahwahnee Meadow in Yosemite Valley, where he was taken to Yosemite Valley Medical Clinic. The remaining team members descended to the valley via the climber’s approach.

The mission was complicated by the steepness of the north face of Sentinel Rock, gusty winds, high rockfall potential, and the relative position of the sun and cliff face, which caused the helicopter to be in direct sunlight while the short haulers were in the shadow of the cliff.