A mountaineer from South Korea is alive after being trapped in a Yosemite avalanche. Injured Monday when a slab of snow cut loose on the steep slopes beneath the face of Half Dome, rescuers pulled Jun Ho Wang off the slope by helicopter Tuesday.
Adrienne Friedman with Yosemite National Park reports that the injured mountaineer was part of two groups of Koreans attempting the Regular Northwest Face Route on Half Dome. Four climbers were already on the wall. The second party of three was working through the steep slopes below the route, locally known as the death slabs, when the avalanche occurred at about 4:20 PM Monday. Its not known if the climbers triggered the avalanche or if the slide occurred naturally.
The Korean, said to be an experienced mountaineer, was swept up and carried about three hundred feet down the slope, but survived. Despite serious trauma, his partners were able to keep the victim warm and safe overnight, Friedman reports. Rescuers made contact with the victim and the uninjured climbers Monday; but with the dangerous conditions on the slope, waited until this morning when a CHP helicopter lowered park medics to the victim.
After a medical assessment, the patient was hauled up to the helicopter and flown to Yosemite Valley. Friedman reports that the climber suffered a possible broken hip, broken ribs, hypothermia, and some frostbite.
Park Officials wanted to remind people that the recent snow and ice have resulted in active avalanche conditions throughout the Sierra range. Friedman cautions winter travelers to plan ahead, be aware of the risks, and have the ability to change tactics if needed, in order to travel in these conditions.