Read Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite: Gripping Accounts of All Known Fatal Mishaps in America's First Protected Land of Scenic Wonders by Michael P. Ghiglieri Charles R. Farabee Jr. Online


Gripping accounts of all known fatal mishaps in America's first protected land of scenic wonders...

Title : Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite: Gripping Accounts of All Known Fatal Mishaps in America's First Protected Land of Scenic Wonders
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ISBN : 9780970097378
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 608 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite: Gripping Accounts of All Known Fatal Mishaps in America's First Protected Land of Scenic Wonders Reviews

  • Amar Pai
    2019-02-26 15:45

    Four stars for the data, one star for the writing. "And now, let's turn to some incidents that were truly... (dons sunglasses) off the wall." Weird moralizing about marijuana use aside, this is a fantastically researched and thoroughly fascinating compendium of fatal accidents in Yosemite, and obviously a labor of love. Here is a chart that shows up at the end of the book, summarizing fatalities by category. I'm always amazed that people aren't more terrified by driving. Clearly getting in an car is one of the most dangerous things a human being can do. The "homicide" chapter starts out with a bunch of Native American attacks against white people. I'd forgotten that Yosemite is named after the tribe that lived there! They weren't too fond of the newcomers trying to make a park out of their lands. It's weird to read about this bloody cycle of ambushes and reprisals that happened in the 1850's. 150 years doesn't seem THAT long ago does it? MORE RECOMMENDATIONSIf you're the kind of person who would read an encyclopedia of Yosemite fatalities, you will definitely enjoy these as well:1. The Hunt for the Death Valley GermansCrazy, true story, told by this guy whose hobby is searching for the remains of people who got lost and are presumed dead, but whose remains were never found. ("Lost & Not Found," in the Yosemite book's taxonomy.) Contains the most chilling sentence I've ever read:At this point they entered into a survival situation, but may not have fully appreciated that fact.Trust me, in context this is terrifying. I still think about that German family sometimes, lost in the hot desert with their young kids. They weren't crazy; they made a series of reasonable but flawed decisions, which made the situation gradually worse and worse until it was too late to recover. Could happen to you.2. The Great Big Book of Horrible ThingsA must-read for anyone fascinated by fatality statistics, The author attempts to quantify exactly how many people died in history's greatest atrocities-- Stalin's purges, the Khmer Rouge, Ghengis Khan's assaults, etc. Ghengis Khan killed a LOT of people. Mountains of skulls.3. Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2014They publish these every year, but I haven't been able to find a compendium. Accident reports with lessons learned. As the Boy Scouts say: be prepared.

  • June
    2019-03-13 15:29

    Almost 600 pages of every kind of DEATH in Yosemite. Dropping over the falls? Yes! Falling while climbing? Check. (Conveniently separated into death while roped and death while free climbing!) Death while caught in snow storms? Absolutely! If you can think up a death, it's here. Welcome to the DEATH PARK. Highly recommended for reading while you are camping in the park!

  • Christiane
    2019-02-24 16:46

    I can't say that I'm entirely proud of reading a nearly 600 page book detailing the 869 "non-natural" deaths in Yosemite from 1851- 2006. And I definitely could have skipped the "Homicide" chapter and in fact really wish I had. Otherwise though, this book is an utterly fascinating account of every type of accidental death you could imagine occurring in a national park full of high cliffs, waterfalls, fast-moving rivers, avalanches, snowstorms and wild animals. (I also learned that “avulsed” is not a word you ever want used in association with your body.) One of the saddest chapters details the destruction of the Hetch Hetchy Valley in order to provide cheap water to the city of San Francisco. John Muir, in his book The Yosemite, wrote: “Nevertheless, like anything else worth while, from the very beginning, however well guarded, they have always been subject to attack by despoiling gain seekers and mischief-makers of every degree from Satan to senators, eagerly trying to make everything immediately and selfishly commercial…” The authors try hard to avoid blaming the victims but in many cases “accidents” only occurred because people (statistically young, male people) behaved in foolish, dangerous, ill-considered ways that inevitable led to disaster. They spend a little time talking about the moral implications of over-estimating your own abilities and then waiting for rescue workers to save you, at great personal risk and economic cost.I really, really want to visit Yosemite now (and thanks to this book I won’t be wading in any rivers at the top of waterfalls or wandering off the trail with no jacket, food or water).

  • Leslie
    2019-03-08 15:34

    I loved this book. I've worked for the park service and regularly read the in-house newsletter about the stupid stuff people do in the parks. Since they are maintained as wild areas, it is easy to get into trouble. Excellent, if queasy look at the wild side of life.

  • CatBookMom
    2019-03-05 13:31

    Breakfast/lunch book, so it took a long time to read. I didn't like this as much as the Yellowstone book (Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park - longer, much more detail - but it was worthwhile reading. Shared bits with my husband, who has been on a few hikes in Yosemite. 7/14 - Interesting reading; waterfalls first, then airplanes, now hiking. So many guys not thinking, winning the Darwin Award for Being Too Stupid to Stay on a Trail. 7/25 - Finished sections on wall-climbing and drowning. So many people drowned, and took their would-be rescuers with them. If you are a climber or find it interesting, there are many, many details of how various bits of equipment - including the thinking parts of climbers' brains - failed. For those of us who like flat ground, tyvm, the authors have included a glossary of climbing terms. 7/28 - The deaths by flora/fauna starts with a very sad story of a little boy gored by a deer. The section on deaths by bears seems primarily to be a LOT of background on the early 20th century stupidities wherein many/most of the animals, not just bears, in Yosemite were hunted in an attempt to get them out of the park; this was apparently NPS policy. Sorry, my eyes are glazing over.8/2 - Finished the section on suicides. Apparently many people find Yosemite the right place to end their lives. 8/9 - finished. Yosemite even had a serial killer, responsible for at least 4 murders.

  • Sia Timo
    2019-03-26 12:27

    I have a tradition of visiting Yosemite at least twice a year since I first visited her back in 1988 for my honeymoon. I've backpacked, hiked, camped, have amazing bear encounters there for decades now and at one point even swore off of visiting the valley and mainly just visited outside it mainly up in Tuolomne driving up there through Tioga bc I found it too crowded in the valley. But I couldn't stay away too long. I live 367 miles from Yosemite village, and I make my pilgrammige every year because my soul needs it. I wish I had read "Off the Wall" much sooner but I'm ecstatic I finally have. The research and all of the work put into this book is phenomenal. Ive read a lot of books about the parks history, but this book showcases Yosemite's historical and modern allure that will forever be a struggle with those that John Muir calls, " despoiling Gain seekers and mischief makers of all degree from Satan to senators, " with those that want Yosemite untouched and unspoiled for generations and generations to come. Having worked in the area of Intensive Care also helps me appreciate the dedication it takes to help preserve human lives. Taking care of people helps one appreciate life from a unique perspective. I personally think the subtitle to this book should've been "The effects of SVTTP and it's effect on the male brain." Too much? Maybe? Enjoy the lessons in this book! Life isn't permanent and if you fall, you will die! They have a sign like this along some of the roads leading down into Switzerland.

  • Tracy
    2019-03-02 10:54

    This book chronicles all of the deaths (and some of the close-calls) that have occurred in Yosemite National Park, starting before it was even a park. Yes, it appeals to the macabre in everyone, but some of the stories are quite memorable and fascinating. A lot of work went into researching some of the stories, many of which are of the "truth is stranger than fiction" and "what were you thinking?" sort. (Like the fellows who decided to creep to the very edge of a waterfall by scooching along slowly in a bottoms-down crabwalk. This did not end well...)The stories sometimes lapse into a didactic tone, with a few too many cliches thrown in. And, I often found myself getting bogged down in details that would be interesting to some, but not all, readers.Overall, this was an entertaining read. I found myself unable to resist relating several of the stories to friends and family, however gruesome and inappropriate. Let your loved ones beware.

  • Nicole Grace
    2019-03-13 15:36

    What a fantastic book! Of course, I have a morbid fascination with death and dying. My mind marvels at how we can be here one minute and completely gone the next. I also happen to be enamored with Yosemite. I love it there. It is THE most gorgeous place on earth. But, it is also a very wild, natural place. Nature can be extremely vicious. It's relentless, it's unforgiving, and it can turn on you in the blink of an eye. Trees fall, granite cracks and breaks away falling onto people, flooded rivers sweep people away, waterfalls go much quicker than they look and ... snow can leave you very disoriented and lead you off trail until hypothermia takes away your last breath. It was an incredible documentation of the dangers of nature, also the allure of killing oneself in a place of such peace and tranquility. It also shows the dark side, those cruel, heartless murders that have taken place within it's boundaries. What a great book.

  • James
    2019-03-12 10:53

    Pretty good book,has special meaning for me because one of the climber who died,we had climbed together 3 years before his death.I remember him.Also so many of the places.I've climbed nutcracker, braille book, church bowl, glacier point apron,bishops terrace, Royal arches, Washington column, and several other places other people had accidents at.Each incident, I'd remember back when I was there,who I was with, and what the climb was like.A bit scary, and there but for...

  • alexis
    2019-03-13 09:50

    i read this in middle school on one of my yearly trips up to yosemite. the title saying "all known fatal mishaps" is not an exaggeration. it has everything from the classic 'trying to get that kodak moment and then falling into the river and getting swept over the waterfall to your death'this rlly does happen a lot, you'd be surprised if you looked at the numbers, to getting kicked by a deer, and even murder. even though the book is 600+ pages, it was interesting and well written.

  • Abby Ang
    2019-03-04 09:30

    "Death in Yosemite," or "Terrible Things Happen to Stupid Men" A few choice excerpts:"Rowlands, shocked, noted that Stayner seemed proud of himself for having waited so long before actually murdering women.""Revealingly, every one of these fatal mistakes was made by a male--no woman in Yosemite is known to have shortcutted and paid for it with her life."

  • Maura
    2019-03-19 15:34

    Very engaging write-up of they myriad ways people have died in Yosemite. Lots of outright stupidity, foolhardiness, and craziness. Some of the stories were rather scary or sad, though.All the warning signage on the rocks near the Yosemite waterfalls make a lot more sense having read this book...

  • E
    2019-03-11 09:31

    (Sung to the Monty Python tune "Nothing quite as wonderful as money")There is nothing quite a wonderful as dead peopleThere is nothing quite a wonderful as that.They throw themselves of cliffs and waterfalls and make a resounding splat!

  • Raven
    2019-02-25 10:51

    A useful if disturbing compilation of the fatal errors and bad luck episodes of Yosemite, I read this after the similar "Over the Edge" about the Grand Canyon, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. The book is part Park history (a lot of people died during construction or resource extraction, as well as carriage fatalities), part cautionary SAR tale (many of these people are here to serve as an example to others, don't hike alone without telling anyone where you're going and then decide you're going to take a "shortcut" you made up off trail), and part grisly true-crime novel (I admit I didn't read about half of the last chapter on homicides -- not conducive to sleeping afterwards!). Well written, and I appreciated how the cases chosen for highlighting rather than mere listing were often ones that one of the authors had worked the rescue on -- that kind of personal touch and insight were very valuable to understanding that person's experience.

  • Amy
    2019-03-17 11:43

    I started reading Off the Wall because my sister and I planned to go hiking in Yosemite. Even though this book took me a lot longer to read than I had anticipated (I put it down for a couple months post-trip and didn't pick it up again until recently), I'm glad I read it. The chapters on waterfalls, scrambling & hiking, and lost persons were especially useful in telling us what common fatal mistakes were and how to avoid them. I can't say we ended up having a safe reip because of Off the Wall, but I can say the stuff we learned from the book helped us feel avoid mistakes and feel safer in the park. It's one thing to think 'I need to do ___; yeah, yeah' but it's completely another to have a name, a life, and a story attached to seemingly inconsequential things you might not think are important enough to pay attention to. Off the Wall speaks to the stories of those who have died in Yosemite, and their stories in turn help to encourage others to act in a more manner in the park.

  • Sally
    2019-02-28 16:45

    Beach read involving harrowing disaster. Ahhh.

  • Ashley
    2019-03-03 13:38

    I've just finished a week-long family vacation spent about 10 minutes south of Yosemite National Park. The first day we went into the valley, my husband and I hiked about 7 miles, and stopped into a few of the little stores. Everywhere we went, this book was on the shelves. If you're familiar with any of my favorite books, it shouldn't surprise you that this book caught my eye.Off the Wall is a well-written, fascinating, long (nearly 600 pages) book that covers all of the unnatural deaths that have taken place within the park since the white men dropped down into the Yosemite Valley. It's a delicate balance of sharing stories and tryng not to make every person (other than those who died by suicide and homicide) sound, well, stupid. But it's hard, because man, people do some really dumb things in national parks.Fewer than 800 people have died traumatically within the whole of Yosemite since the 1850s. Many did things like stepped over the railing onto slippery rocks at the waterfall to get a better picture, or went hiking without good clothing, map, and compass, or overestimated their rock climbing ability. Some were victims of freak accidents, like the constuction truck with failed breaks that crashed into a car and buried the occupants with hot asphault. And others chose to make Yosemite their final resting place after they decided they didn't want to be in the world anymore.I started reading this on Tuesday evening, and just finished it on Saturday morning. So much of it is just intriguing, and it was difficult to put it down. I appreciate that the authors have real experience in this area and weren't just doing a retrospective study - one of them served in Search and Rescue within the park and was involved in many of the attempted rescues outlined in the book. But they also did some fantastic research, getting details from local papers from the 1800s. I also appreciated that they treated the killing of the original inhabitants (the Native Americans) by white men as murder.A couple of times the book felt a little condescending, and some language they chose to use (like referring to undocumented immigrants as 'illegals', or how they described suicidal people) is so outdated and insensitive that it took me out of the book on occasion. But overall, if you want to be both educated on the ways your fellow man and woman can screw up, as well as inspired by the ways park employees try to save these folks, this is a good book to check out.

  • Mylissa
    2019-02-26 09:40

    So I saw this on the shelf at one of the Yosemite bookstores after I successfully hiked half dome and was immediately curious. Luckily my local library had it and I delved into the over 800 non-natural deaths that have happened within the park boundaries. While some of them definitely qualify mostly as freak accidents or things not easily avoidable, then you have the tales of people climbing to the edges of waterfalls for the perfect picture, someone who vowed to never be arrested for BASE jumping and jumping into the Merced and drowning, all sorts of folk who thought trying to find a short cut was a good idea but not having a map or compass, and people scrambling up or down cliffs without proper gear - or just going out on their own without proper gear. Or how about a trail so deadly that FOUR people ran right off it into nothing but air right at the same point.While the authors do a fairly good job not victim blaming they do point out that most of the deaths involve young males who overestimate their abilities or assume they know better then a trail or a map or go out without proper preparation. That's not to say women haven't died because of those things, just a FAR smaller number. Overall I'm not sure if I learned that much, even after one trip to Yosemite, it's clear that hiking off on your own, not having appropriate gear, not having a map and compass, trying to shortcut, getting to close to the edge of waterfalls could easily be deadly. I didn't need a book to tell me, however it was a fascinating read, and I'll probably grab their similar book on the Grand Canyon. Oh wait, there was one thing I learned, leave the rescuing to the professionals because it can easily be deadly. Most of the would be rescuers mentioned in the book became casualties. Nature doesn't play fair. It seems like human nature to try to reach out and help but inside Yosemite it's pretty much a death sentence. There was a little bit of good history in the book itself and I think it's well written, not too many gory details, but enough to qualify as macabre. And some of it is downright crazy. Should make one check their gear lists twice, and take precautions to not end up as an addendum, hopefully that can help lower the number of deaths that happen in the outdoors.

  • Grace
    2019-03-10 10:26

    This is such a difficult book to review. It was very entertaining. I picked it up after visiting Yosemite and hiking one of its more difficult trails (Upper Yosemite Falls). Only a few weeks after my visit, two hikers fell off another set of falls on another trail I had considered hiking. It got me curious about just how many deaths had occurred at this park.This book details most of the deaths that have happened since before Yosemite even became a National Park. Some of them were honest mishaps (like the side of the mountain that just decided to fall down on a group of hikers), and some of them were products of sheer stupidity (such as deciding there's a quicker way down off the cliffside than the clearly marked trail). But what this book does best is remind its reader that although Yosemite is a well maintained park, it is still a wildlife area, and one must respect it as such.My one huge complaint about this book was its organization, or lack thereof. The author skips around a lot. Mostly the deaths are grouped according to area they occurred in, but other than that there is no chronology (which was the biggest distraction for me) or grouping of similar outcomes. I found myself going back and forth trying to organize them for my own need for order. Sometimes he would talk about one person, jump to another situation that occurred at a different time, then go back to the original person. It just read as though he didn't have an editor other than just for grammar. It's too bad because if it weren't for that distracting flaw, this book would have been amazing.I would recommend this book only if you are very interested in the subject matter.

  • Brad
    2019-03-04 15:32

    This is a thick book that goes by very quickly. I found the book to be addicting. I am not an avid reader. I just don't have time. (Or make time.) On our yearly trips to Yosemite last year, I saw this at the Information Center, started reading a story here and there and left regretting not buying it. This year I purchased it and could not put it down. I even reread the stories I read last year because it is so fascinating!Ghilieri and Farabee do such a great job of walking the fine line of writing this book for the purpose of educating and not sensationalizing the material, which would be quite easy to do. As a previous comment noted, there aren't a lot of "gory" explicit details, but enough to get a sense of the enormity of the incidents.At the beginning of each chapter there usually is a story about an incident with a "happy" ending concerning the theme of the chapter. ("Happy" in that the people involved actually survived, perhaps with severe injuries.) Without self-control, it is almost impossible to put the book down in that when one story is concluded, another pulls you in.Farabee's insight as a Search and Rescue personnel adds tremendously from not only his analysis but occasionally even his first-hand account.As a parent and a teacher, I believe this book should be required reading (especially that of males) to learn the book's valuable lesson, not only as it applies to Yosemite or any natural wonder, but to life in general.

  • Michelle
    2019-03-12 15:43

    When I first saw this book in the gift shop in Yosemite, I had a morbid fascination with it but I just could not let myself read it. I thought it would be horrific to read about people falling off of cliffs and such. A year later, when I found it at my moms house, I decided to give it a try and found I was not sickened by the accounts. Sad at times, relieved when lives were saved, and astounded at other times by the apparent stupidity of explorers.I love Yosemite and plan on visiting as many of it's nooks and crannies as I can safely, and now I know many things not to do. I'll definitely be teaching my kids too.. To stay on the trail, not hike alone, and tell someone where they are going. Even more so, I'm so glad to learn that some of my fears are unrealistic... Iike getting killed by bears or falling off of Glacier Point just by looking over the edge. But I'll never get in the water above any waterfall...ever!

  • Tracy
    2019-03-13 14:40

    I don't consider myself a particularly morbid person, and when I picked up this book I thought that 600 pages of death was perhaps a bit too fact, it turned out to be just enough! What a fascinating read. Truly. Count me in with the reviewers who whizzed through all 600 pages in a few days. And it's not just because of a weird fascination with grizzly deaths...this book opens up a lot of questions about the human condition and what compels people to do unbelievably stupid shit. Anyone who has hiked at Yosemite has probably encountered a person doing some ridiculous daredevil stunt and wondered WHY?! (Or maybe you ARE that person!) This book delves into the why, and it ends on an incredibly thoughtful conclusion about personal responsibility that should definitely not be skipped over! The only problem I had with the book is that it is sloppily edited, and sometimes sentences and paragraph transitions were difficult to follow.

  • Toni
    2019-03-26 08:54

    Sooo, this is a fascinating book. Reading it makes one just a bit more cautious of step on the trails of Yosemite, but also quite a bit more respectful of the awesome power of God's creations. The greatest proportion of deaths are young adult males. Hmmm.Here is an interesting fact: One of my distant relatives, 10 year old Warren Deverl Montague was the 42nd recorded drowning in the park on August 20, 1948. I didn't know the connection when I read it, but when I was telling my father about the book, he remembered it and told me to look it up.Another interesting fact is that after my husband read this book, he was more eager to hike in Yosemite than before.

  • Lyle Montgomery
    2019-02-27 10:38

    I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I love this genre--true outdoor adventure with tragic or near tragic outcomes. The book was cowritten by a Yosemite park ranger who had first hand knowledge of many of the events described and access to inside knowledge, which lends some depth to the stories. The writing style is excellent, drawing you in and keeping you hooked from one story to the next. Park history and other interesting information is intertwined making it much more than just a story about tragedy. The tales confirm your respect for the vastness, power, and unforgiving attitude of nature, and reveal how incredibly foolish some people can be.

  • gabrielle
    2019-03-27 15:51

    Just like "Ranger Confidential", this book's writing style was really hard to follow. The stories are, indeed, gripping though! I read this while I was taking a trip in Yosemite (perhaps not the best choice of reading material).There's a lot in here to scare you, and to piss you off. I can't understand how the family of someone who was being really, really stupid to the point that they had to be rescued (endangering many other people in the process) can turn around an sue the NPS for that person's death - and *win*. That is tragic.

  • Jeannie Long
    2019-03-18 11:45

    Okay, so while hanging out in The Village Store at Yosemite waiting for a friend, I started to take a look at this book, and got sucked in to its well told stories. I admit I have a morbid fascination for how people could die in such an extremely vertical rocky park, and going over one of the very high waterfalls is one of the worst possible imaginings for me. However, after reading the entire book, I think the worst way you can die is not in nature, but by the hand of man, as shown in the chapter on homicide.

  • Karen
    2019-03-22 09:54

    My favorite stories in this book were the near deaths. I am so glad those were included or I'm not sure I could have made it through this. This is a big, fat book chock full of death and disaster. Generally this wouldn't be up my alley, but it was somehow strangely fascinating to read about all the many different ways that things could go horribly wrong and it certainly was educational. Luckily I read this book just after coming back from Yosemite rather than before I went!

  • John
    2019-03-27 15:39

    Excellent book, though I'm sure I was prejudiced by having taken a fall. It's a narrative of all deaths of any kind in Yosemite since it became a park. The chapters are broken down into the kind of death, such as: Waterfalls, Snow, Base Jumping, Aircraft Down, Freak Accidents, Falls while climbing and scrambling, Drowning, Fauna and Flora, Lost, Suicide, Homicide, Big Walls and Small Ones, Wheels..... The authors were both National Park Service rangers.

  • Dave
    2019-03-17 14:44

    Interesting read, however I believe Farabee sensationalised a lot of the stories. As well as trying to give the reader a biased view of the casualtie's mindset or thought process during their last moments based on his own opinion and not the facts that were left behind.Farabee would make a good fiction writer; however in a book where facts are critical, there is too much of a crossover between fact and fiction.

  • Janelle
    2019-03-02 11:24

    This follow-up to "Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon" isn't nearly as fascinating, perhaps because Grand Canyon attracts more people who are strictly tourists and fail to comprehend its inherent dangers, while Yosemite hosts more adventure-seekers who (more probably) are conscious of the risks involved. Contains the same grammar problems as the first. Some descriptions of massive falls and homicides are particularly gruesome.