Yosemite Climber Survives Fall, Severed Thumb Reattached

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CBS SF) – A rock climber at Yosemite National Park whose thumb was severed by the safety rope that saved him from a fall has had the thumb reattached by surgeons.

The man was the lead climber of a 2-person team ascending the Nose Route to El Capitan. When he fell a few feet, the safety rope that saved his life wrapped around his right thumb, severing it from his hand.

“Miraculously, the thumb fell about 80 feet, landed on a ledge,” said park spokesman Scott Gediman.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

“The climber’s partner was able to take the thumb and put it in his pocket, and after that, the pair called for help.”

That call sparked a daring search and rescue operation.

Crews raced against impending darkness Monday night and a short window of time to get the hiker to a hospital where his thumb could be reattached.

Rescuers dangling from a helicopter were able to reach the climber and bring him to safety. He was flown to California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco where the thumb was reattached.

Park officials have not released any details about the injured man, except to say he is from Austria.

17 people have died in accidents at Yosemite this year.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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