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|Submitted by Tom Evans on Mon, 09/28/2015 - 15:26|
ElCap Report 9/27/15 Special Leaning Tower Rescue Edition
By Tom Evans
Yo… I was down at the ECM, getting ready for a casual day shooting, when the word came down that there was to be a rescue off the Leaning Tower. A climber fell, hitting his head and was hanging upside down for some 3 minutes. He was in and out of consciousness, on Guano Ledge, so his partner called YOSAR. The morning was cloudy and gray and the light not the best, but I hung in there and got the shots.
1) The Leaning Tower is the orange face in the middle left of the shot.
1A) A bit after 9am the principle machine need to carry out the rescue arrived… old #551 flown by the veteran pilot Richard Shatto, would be put to the test today. Richard was solid all day as he has been in many other such rescues over the years!
2) Soon the YOSAR crew was on scene, a pretty good trick for a Sunday morning!
3) There were various gatherings so that everyone would understand the plan.
4) Ranger Bonner, on the left, and the helicopter support crew, were soon waiting for the word to start the rescue.
5) Jack Hoeflick, on the left, a legend in Rescue, and Ken Kreis would be the first two men to fly to the top of the Tower and set up for the long lower down to the injured climber.
6) Soon they were suspended on a 200 foot line below the chopper and were flown to the top of the tower. Jack is giving the signal to keep on going up, so they will clear the trees when flying to the Tower.
7) Soon a progression of other YOSAR members, were flown to the top. Here a couple are arriving. In all, I think, 6 men were flown to the top with hundreds of feet of rope and equipment.
8) A short time later, Jack, with the litter, was in position to start the long descent to Ahwahnee Ledge.
Earlier in the day, the ground crew climbed from the start of the route, in case they were needed, as a plan B, in case the lowering didn't come off as planned.
9) Here Jack is seen coming down the upper part of the cliff.
10) Soon Jack was hanging 40ft out from the wall and made a perfect toss, to get the men on the ledge the rope need to pull him in.
11) Soon the injured climber was on the litter and was ready to go.
12) YOSAR team member, Dave Weintraub, made the climb from below and helped lower Jack and the injured climber out into space for the trip to the deck.
13) Soon Jack and the injured climber were downward bound past climbing ranger Cam King, who you can see watching from the left side of the shot.
14) After the lowering was complete, 551 returned, and picked up Jack and the injured climber and brought them to the ElCap Meadow.
15) Soon they were at the base of operations at the ECM and ready for the injured climber to be placed in the ambulance.
16) Medical staff crew member, Kyle Reynolds, had the ambulance ready to go.
17) The ambulance crew, Adrianne Ghio and Kyle Reynolds, getting ready for the injured climber, who is out in the meadow.
18) Soon the climber was placed in the ambulance, and the rescue finished.
The rescue was not over the moment the injured climber was in the ambulance. The YOSAR members still on the Tower had to rappel down the face and those on top went down the back of the rock. The entire operation went so smoothly it would appear, to the average viewer, that it was nothing special. They would be very wrong. These kind of operations are the result of many hours and days of practice and coordination, to make such rescues as safe as possible for all concerned. Many more people are involved than my simple report can show… my hat is off to all of the people involved! So, another one is in the books for our incomparable Yosemite Search and Rescue Team!!!!!!!!
So that’s the way it is and that’s the way it went down, on this sleepy Sunday, the 27th day of September, 2015.
Capt. Tom… on the scene.