Park Service) During the first major storm of the season on
Tuesday, October 19th, 2004 rangers and search and rescue teams began
a full-scale effort to rescue seven climbers on four different routes
on El Capitan, located at the west end of Yosemite Valley.
Yosemite Search and Rescue team members surveyed the climbing routes on
El Capitan after the first wave of the storm passed and saw two
climbers from Japan on "The Nose" who were without a porta-ledge and
were not moving (a porta-ledge is a tent-like storm shelter that
climbers carry on long climbs and can be hung from the cliff).
Yosemite National Park, NPS Photo
|Weather conditions initially made use of the park helicopter
impossible. The rescue team hiked over 11 miles in driving snow,
extreme wind, and poor visibility, then conducted a technical rescue
to get down to the stranded climbers.
A break in the weather on Wednesday made it possible to fly to the
site by helicopter. The helicopter flew very close to the two
Japanese climbers on "The Nose," a difficult but popular route that
stretches from the Yosemite Valley floor to the summit of El Capitan,
and rangers on board could tell that both were deceased.
Rescuers then diverted their attentions to other parties on El
Capitan. David Turner was solo climbing and had been on the rock for
17 days. He had almost reached the top of his climb when he realized
that he needed assistance. Turner was taken to the summit, then
transported by helicopter to El Capitan Meadow on Wednesday.
They next focused on two climbing teams on the cliff.
|The first climbing team of two, Tom Thompson and Eric Erikson, both
Californians, was climbing on the route named "Never Never Land."
They were safely taken to the summit, then flown to El Capitan Meadow
The second climbing team of two was on Salathe Wall. Marisol
Monterrabio Vekasco from Santa Torre, Mexico, and her climbing
partner, Tom Andrews of New Paltz, New York, were taken to the
summit, then flown to El Capitan Meadow on Friday afternoon.
All five of the rescued climbers are considered very capable and
extremely skilled climbers and were in good condition after being
|The two deceased Japanese climbers were taken off the rock on
Thursday. They were taken to the Mariposa County Coroner's Office,
where they were identified as Mariko Ryugo, 27, and Ryoichi Yamanoto,
26. The cause of death was deemed hypothermia. Ryugo and her climbing
partner Yamanoto were from Hyogo, Japan, and were visiting Yosemite
with two friends.
Marin County, Placer County, and Mariposa County Search and Rescue
teams assisted Yosemite Search and Rescue. About 100 people were
involved in the rescue operations.
[Submitted by Raye Santos, Public Affairs]