Austrian climber loses thumb on El Capitan

Posted Sep 29, 2011 by Gar Swaffar
An Austrian rock climber in Yosemite National Park has hit a snag in his attempt to conquer El Capitan. That snag nearly cost him a digit.
El Capitan  Yosemite Valley
El Capitan, Yosemite Valley
PD Photos
El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is 7,569 feet in elevation and provides both a challenging climb and of course spectacular views from the top. A pair of climbers were attempting the climb when the lead climber fell but was caught by his safety rope. Unfortunately one of his thumbs was caught in a loop of the safety rope and was severed in the fall, which then fell to a ledge below the climbers. As reported at FoxNews, the lead climbers companion was able to retrieve the lost digit and alert officials to the accident. Neither climber has been identified by officials at this time, except to note that one of them is an Austrian.
The rescue of the injured climber involved a rather risky maneuver and extreme skill by the team performing it, the maneuver included rescuers being suspended from a hovering helicopter, who then removed the injured climber from the wall of El Capitan.
Yosemite Valley District Ranger Eric Gabriel was quoted in the Fox article as stating
"This was an incredibly technical and complex rescue mission with a lot of inherent risk,"
As anyone who has ever hiked in Yosemite can imagine after realizing the face of El Capitan is nearly 3,000 feet from the base to the top.
The climber was transferred to a second helicopter and flown to a hospital in San Francisco where his thumb has reportedly been reattached. The lucky climber owes the reattachment of his thumb to both his partner who retrieved it and the rescue team who were willing to undertake a risky operation to offer the chance for the surgery.
Particularly the rescue team who were willing to assume the risk involved and which allowed for the speedy reattachment. A Hat Tip to those folks.
One of the first to climb El Cap was Warren Harding, not the President, in 1958, when he led a team up "The Nose", which is a prominent feature of El Cap.