Harrowing Half-Dome Rescue - Backpacker

Harrowing Half-Dome Rescue

South Korean climber survives avalanche, broken bones, and a cold, exposed night in Yosemite

South Korean climber Jun Ho Wang, 38, deserves a beer: After being swept by an avalanche over 100 yards off Yosemite's Half Dome into an icy gully, suffering a broken leg and wrist, and spending a freezing night outside, rescue crews finally airlifted him off the mountain 16 hours after his ordeal began.

An avalanche hit the seven-man climbing crew on Monday afternoon while they were about 2,000 feet up Half Dome. Only Wang was affected; one climber stayed with him and wrapped him in sleeping bags, two descended for help, and the four above kept climbing. Rescue crews scrambled on Monday night, but had to wait out a night of continued snow slides before they could attempt a chopper rescue.

"It could have been a lot worse, but he was well prepared," said Sean Pence, a manager at Yosemite Medical Clinic, where Wang was evaluated before being flown out of the park. "He had great equipment and his equipment probably saved his life."

See? Good gear goes a long way. I learned that the hard way when I once went hiking in late fall in a cotton sweatsuit. Man, do I miss those fingers and toes.

Just hearing that story makes us cold. Learn how to tackle hypothermia in our video tutorial.

—Ted Alvarez

Injured climber rescued from Yosemite's Half Dome (AP)

Image Credit: sara.atkins