Arrowhead Arete
It was the first time I'd ever met Dave and Mike. I had carpooled with them to Yosemite, but they didn't show up Sunday afternoon to drive home, nor did they answer my radio calls. They had planned on climbing Braille Book on the south side of the valley, but their car was mysteriously at the Church Bowl parking lot. Eventually, to my surprise and confusion, Bryan came on the radio. He and Rob had been descending from Arrowhead Arete when they heard my voice coming from Mike's abandoned backpack. They found the radio and answered it. They told me that Dave and Mike had made a last-minute change of plan that morning and had been behind them on Arrowhead Arete.

Fortunately, Bryan's car waited with me in the parking lot while the rest of the club went home. Hours later, when it was dark and raining, Bryan and Alex decided to go in search of the missing pair, up steep and slippery terrain. We stayed in radio contact with them and with the rangers, who were only sometimes on duty, kept rotating, and didn't want to get very involved. However, one of them did help us break into Dave's car with a slim jim, since all my warm gear was locked inside.

Dave and Mike, meanwhile, had been stuck behind many parties on the 12 pitch route and didn't top out until dusk. Dave had dropped the battery-pack of his flashlight, which, by coincidence, someone in our group found. On their way down an unknown gully in the dark, Dave rappeled over the edge of a chockstone into a seeming abyss. Panicking, he did a heel-hook back onto the chockstone and decided not to go any further until morning. Neither of them had warm clothes, were wearing cotton shirts, and it was raining. They found a tiny "cave" that kept the rain off, lay on top of each other, and piled the rope on top of them. Whoever was colder and hallucinating more got to lie under the other. At one point Dave stuck his head through two trunks of a tree and put on his helmet, calling it a "head-cam," to keep from rolling off the edge. He hallucinated that he was racking his gear when he wasn't, and he changed one of his shoes but not the other.

Bryan and Alex made voice contact with Dave and Mike around 2am. This was a great relief to all of us and improved the morale of the lost pair for the duration of the night. Bryan and Alex slept in their tent, while Rob, Ren, and I dozed in the seats of Bryan's car.

Early Monday morning, Dave and Mike spent 45 minutes untangling their rope with frozen fingers. They lowered themselves to where Bryan and Alex were waiting and warmed up in sleeping bags before descending further. By this time it was snowing. (In May.) Ren and I went up to meet the 4 of them at the base of the climb, bringing more food and helping to carry gear down. Finally, back in the parking lot, we were all joyfully reunited, and went to the YoSAR office to debrief and decompress.

jacquie_rob ren_rob jacquie ren dave
bryan3 group arrowhead_arete2 alex_bryan yosar