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Climbing Shoes Placed on Mules to Facilitate Yosemite Rescue

July 15 2004 at 4:20 PM
roger  (Login dipper)

Response to July 2004 Accidents/Rescues


Yosemite National Park (CA)
Rescue of Pack Mules

A park concession mule train supplying the Merced Lake High Sierra Camp wrecked on the Bunnell switchbacks in the Merced River Canyon around noon on July 9th. Four loaded mules, strung together by rope, tumbled and slid for approximately 200 feet across low-angle granite slabs below the trail and came to rest upon a granite bench. The animals sustained only slight injuries in their fall. An NPS trail crew working nearby responded and assisted in stabilizing the mules and assessing the situation. The trail crew members decided that more resources and equipment were needed to safely extricate the animals from where they were now stuck. The concession stables foreman, the park trails branch supervisor, and two SAR team members were flown to the scene in the park’s contract helicopter. The mules’ metal shoes were covered with tape to simulate “sticky rubber” climbing shoes. A rope system was set up to “belay” the mules as they made their way back across the slick rock and up to the trail. Three of four mules danced, high-stepped, and stumbled as they were lead across the slabs back to safety. One mule, weighing about a thousand pounds, slipped and rolled, but was caught by the rope team. She was able to right herself and safely continue. When all four mules were back on the trail, they were repacked and continued up the trail to the camp.[Submitted by Jason Gayeski-Peters, SAR Team]

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