Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite


Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite
Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite
Manufacturer Ghiglier and Farabee (Puma Press)
Page By Augie Medina
Page Type Oct 12, 2007 / Jun 14, 2010
Object ID 4123
Hits 4831

Product Description

This volume is an account of the nearly 900 fatalities in Yosemite’s 156 years of recorded history. The chapters are divided into major categories of mishaps (e.g., rock climbing accidents, drownings) and the narrative within each chapter proceeds from one incident to the next in recounting the hundreds of fatal incidents.

In addition to technical rock climbing accidents, river drownings, animal attacks, lightning strikes, lost hikers, and deaths while hiking or scrambling, the book covers such infamous incidents as the airplane laden with 5,000 pounds of marijuana that crashed at Lower Merced Pass Lake in 1977. About a ton of the cargo was "salvaged" by locals and visitors before authorities could intercede.

Suicides accounted for 60 of the deaths, while homicides number 44. This book reflects exhaustive research and concludes with a chapter entitled “What Can We Learn From All of This?”

Product Details

Softcover: 608 pages

Price: $24.95

Author: Michael P. Ghiglier and Charles R. Farabee, Jr.

Publisher: Puma Press

Year of Publication: 2007

Language: English

ISBN: 13-978-0-9700973-6-1



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Augie Medina - Oct 12, 2007 10:31 am - Voted 5/5

Excellent Compendium
Despite the title, there is little of the macabre in this detailed account of the hundreds of fatalities in the park’s 156 years of recorded history. Part of the reason for this is the lively writing style of the authors. You will not be long into the first chapter narrating the ways people have put themselves into position to be swept down waterfalls before you become flabbergasted at the way victim after victim ignored palpable warnings of danger (such as guard rails).

The chapter on climbing accidents is nearly 100 pages in length and there is also a substantial chapter on fatalities while hiking and scrambling. The chapter on hikers getting lost provides some very interesting reading, while the chapters on suicides (in 1925, a man who had squandered his inheritance jumped 1,430 feet off the cliff of Upper Yosemite Fall) and murders is obviously there for completeness.

While the incidents within each chapter are narrated without headings, the end of each chapter provides a convenient catalog of the incidents recounted and even incidents that are not described in the chapter.

There are hours of “entertainment” in this book and perhaps some lessons.

silversummit - Jan 7, 2009 8:44 pm - Voted 5/5

Surprisingly good reading!
I picked this tome up half expecting to be bored but as Mountain Impulse describes, the lively writing style definitely keeps you reading. Occasionally I did skip over a few short sections such as the early historical segments and aviation accidents but I was amazed by the abundance of total stupidity such as standing on railings to take pictures and walking out into the center of rivers. Every time I would get a bit bored a new chapter would introduce a different death cause such as lightning strike.

In fact, one of the most famous accidents resulting in death on Half Dome from a lightning strike, led me to look for a book on the actual incident.

Some incidents could be used as case studies with groups such as Scouts. The first questions you could ask for almost every event cited in this book are "What basic rule(s) for safety were broken or ignored?" Once broken, what could have been done to lessen injury or prevent death?" The authors do an excellent job of presenting answers to these questions including the Park Service's response after tragedy with appropriate signs etc. yet acknowledging that there is no substitute for common sense.

While not a book for everyone it can be a great read for those who relish reality and its consequences.

Stu Brandel - Feb 4, 2009 9:19 pm - Voted 5/5

Should be Required Reading...
...for any hiker. It gets one's attention on how easy it is to die through stupidity.

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