Story Behind The Picture #3: Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue


One Eyed Brett Holt
One Eyed Brett Holt

Summer 1996 (Yosemite National Park): Lacerated pupil. On the evening of June 12, my roommate Greg and friend Melissa were in Oakhurst doing our weekly shopping. At about 10pm, we received a page to return to Yosemite Valley to assist in an ongoing rescue operation on North Dome gully. A climber had slipped down the gully earlier in the evening after climbing Royal Arches. When he slipped a rock dislodged from above and slammed on his left arm leaving him a compound fracture. He was losing blood and not able to descend on his own. I arrived on scene about 12:30am to assist in the lowering operation. Here is what I wrote in my journal:

“The lowering operation was consistent but slow. Lots of people falling, slipping rocks, sliding, lots of passovers. Around 300 feet from the bottom I was carrying the litter and sliding down a rock. As I went over the rock another rescuer went on the trail to the side of the rock. He stepped on a stick and it slammed me in the eye. I immediately fell and let go of the litter. I couldn’t see and had to be assisted down the hill.”

At the bottom, I joined the patient in the ambulance and we were both driven to the Yosemite hospital. The doctor was able to clean a lot of my injury but sent me to an eye specialist in Modesto for further examination. The specialist, Dr. Guido, concluded that I had a lacerated pupil but he wasn’t going to stitch it for fear it would scar and impair my vision. As a result I was driven to see him every day for two weeks straight just so he could see if any liquid was being released. I wore the bandage the entire time  and went on light duty. I did fully recover from the incident and completed my summer on the Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue team.

This photo says it all about where my nickname in Boy Kicks Girl came from. After Kevin saw me with the bandage, he immediately named me “One Eyed Brett”.

This selection of photos highlights many of the incidents I participated in during the summer of 1996. I searched for a lost backcountry ranger in Kings Canyon National Park scoured for bodies in the Happy Aisle rockslide, watched a highline walker on Lost Arrow Spire, befriended then unknown adventure photographer Tyler Stableford and enjoyed one of the best summers ever.