YOSEMITE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A captain with the U.S. Air Force helped rescue a climber who fell near the summit of Half Dome inside Yosemite National Park.
Capt. Joshua Haveman is a flight instructor with the 60th Air Evacuation Squadron, assigned to Travis Air Force Base. He jumped into action after a climber fell near the summit of Half Dome, according to military personnel.
“I knew people were going to be in trouble as soon as I topped the hill because it was cold and windy, and people were getting desperate trying to come down holding a slick metal cable on slick granite,” said Haveman. “About that time, I heard someone scream out, so I looked up and saw this person sliding”.
According to military officials, Haveman was on his final 400 feet to the summit of Half Dome on Sept. 2 when a fellow climber plummeted around 60 to 80 feet, landing on a ledge suspended over 8,000 feet above the valley floor.
Haveman risked serious injury when he went around the permanent cable barriers to reach the fallen climber.
“You could see that his legs were not naturally oriented at all, so I started collecting sticks and started climbing,” said Haveman.
Using makeshift splints fashioned from sticks, the base says Haveman provided crucial first aid to the injured climber. Haveman coordinated a call to the park’s ranger station, alerting authorities to the situation. A search and rescue Park Ranger arrived on the scene and the climber was medically evacuated via helicopter.
“I wasn’t sure a helicopter would be able to land with the winds being as strong as they were, so we were preparing to carry him 10 or 12 hours down with a six-man litter,” Haveman said.
“Apparently, it was this pilot’s first day on the job, and he was amazing! It took him about 15 minutes, but he was able to sit the chopper down and we were able to get the patient loaded and breathe a sigh of relief.”
The injured climber was medically evacuated from the scene by helicopter to receive further treatment.