Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
When I tell people about my passion – Half Dome, I am often told that “people are falling of that rock all the time.” Er, no they aren’t. I refer them to my website and the ACCIDENTS page. You can go there and learn about the 4 recent deaths. 2 in the off-season when the cables just lie on the rock’s damp surface; 1 who fell duijng a hailstorm last year; and 1 fatigued and dehydrated hiker who went up after driving 5 hours in the middle of the night. Those were the fatalities. A woman also fell but lived in June 2009 – also bad weather. Considering that about 50,000 have done the hike each recent summer, that’s pretty good odds. Oh, from 1919 when the cables were erected until 2007, nobody died when the cables were up for summer use. More go over the many waterfalls. And if you take out weather and poor judgment, it’s actually safer than driving to Yosemite. A few years ago the head of the Yosemite Assn died in a car crash on Highway 140 while heading to work. You can also read Death in Yosemite and tally them up yourself as of its 2007 publication date.
As winter encroaches on us, many head to the ski resorts at Tahoe. Check these stats. In the injury category, across the USA, the leading cause of non-fatal trauma while doing “outdoor activities” was snowboarders at 1.8 injuries for every 1,000 “exposures.” Skiers at 3.0, surfers with 1.8 and mountain bikers at 1.2. The annual average in the 2000’s showed skiing killed an annual average of 32.6 people, skydiving 29.2, mountaineering 25.4 and kayaking 17.4.
Be careful when playing in the snow. Wear a helmet or just don’t do it. Since my 1997 blow-out eye socket fracture and subsequent acute traumatic glaucoma while skiing at Heavenly Valley, I’ve hung up my skis. I find plenty to do. So adjust your bindings, protect your knee ligaments as best you can, don’t hug trees at high speed and don’t stand on the slopes like a bowling pin. Yes, most injuries are from collisions. I’d bet if people knew just how dangerous skiing and snowboarding were, they would not go. When are resorts going to mandate helmets – not just for kids but for adults?
The vendor who operates the Yosemite Clinic (Tenet Healthcare Corporation) will see their contract end December 31. YNP is working with the US Public Health Service to staff the clinic with paramedics. The Medical Clinic building will be closed during January for renovations. A triage emergency medical services station will be in place in the parking lot of the medical clinic. (Bring your snow shovel.) It is anticipated that the clinic will be staffed by PHS doctors and nurses by March. Don’t get hurt!!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” – Henry David Thoreau
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com