Park Service) - While hiking near the base of El Capitan in a
snowstorm on the evening of December 28, climbers heard yells for
help coming from the Zodiac route and reported the yelling to the
park around 7:30 p.m.
Ranger Jack Hoeflich hiked to the base of the route in the severe
storm, arriving there about 11 p.m. With difficulty, Hoeflich located
an unresponsive climber swinging in the wind on a rope about 25 feet
above the ground and 15 feet out from the overhanging wall.
Additional rangers and rescue team members arrived after 1 a.m. with
Yosemite National Park, NPS Photo
A rope was clipped to the climber with considerable
effort, using a 25-foot "cheater stick" extendable pole. Hoeflich
then ascended a fixed rope about 70 feet to the west of the stranded
climber and hanging 15 feet out from the wall. Hoeflich trailed the
rope that was attached to the climber. When he was at about the same
level as the immobile climber, Hoeflich and the climber were pulled
together by the team on the ground using the previously attached
rope. Hoeflich rigged him to be lowered and the ground team let him
down. Park medics and EMTs did CPR until he was declared dead by
medical control via cell phone. The body was then littered over the
snow-covered talus slope and hauled to the road shortly after 4 a.m.
The climber was later identified as Joseph E. Crowe, 25, of San Jose,
California. Witnesses confirmed that Crowe had been solo climbing the
[Submitted by David Horne, Supervisory Park Ranger/Team Leader]