Climber Survives 60m Fall

The 31-year-old climber had free soloed the popular Yosemite route before. This time, something went wrong.

In this crazy world we are living in, where there is more bad news than good, it is hard to believe in miracles. But the miraculous hand of the divine was looking out for Josh Ourada. The California climber survived a fall that should have killed him on April 11. 

Josh Ourada had a decade of solo experience when he took on Nutcracker, a popular 5.8 trad route in Yosemite National Park. The wall rises 152m almost vertically, but it’s not too difficult. Ourada had free soloed it before. But sometimes…accidents happen. 

Josh Ourada two days before his fall. Photo: Josh Ourada



As he approached the last half of his fourth pitch, he slipped — he doesn’t remember exactly what happened — and peeled off. As he fell 60m, his back to the wall, he tried to slow himself with his heels and palms. Serious road rash was the least of his cares. With a thud, he hit a ledge at the top of the second pitch, scattering climbers working their own way up.

One of them, Cole Ramey, came to his aid. Ramey had dived out of Ourada’s way at the last moment. Now he cared for the stricken climber until a rescue helicopter came four hours later.

Ourada suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured L1 vertebrae, fractured pelvis and left foot, collapsed lung, broken thumb, and lacerations. He has also lost all feeling in his feet, toes, butt, and groin.

The “funemployed” engineer, as he calls himself on LinkedIn, is used to doing things completely solo and feels guilty for putting the other climbers in harm’s way. He prefers to climb without many people around to avoid that responsibility.

Ourada in recovery. Photo: Josh Ourada


The doctors have given him a disappointing 20 percent chance of regaining feeling below his ankles. Nevertheless, he chooses to be optimistic. He is currently in physiotherapy and is considering taking up aid climbing.

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago. Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb. Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration. Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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Don Paul
Don Paul
1 year ago

It sounds like he was able to maintain control during the fall and stop himself from falling three times farther, maybe out of control, if he didn’t stick that ledge. I remember once I was on a mountain bike, the front tire just went a little out of the track, and the next thing I knew I was going straight downhill, off the track and in between trees. I was able to jump off the bike into the air, and land downhill in deep pine needles. It’s amazing that we are able to do things like that. He probably controlled… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Don Paul