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

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  251 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Gripping accounts of all known fatal mishaps in America's first protected land of scenic wonders
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published March 28th 2007 by Puma Press
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(showing 1-30 of 534)
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Cns
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!

Amar Pai
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 ca
...more
Christiane
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 n ...more
Leslie
Dec 04, 2007 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Outdoor enthusiasts, National Park lovers, rubber-neckers
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.
Sia Timo
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 be ...more
Nicole Grace
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 river ...more
Tracy
Sep 17, 2007 Tracy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The "not so" squeamish
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 slo
...more
Tracy
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 much...in 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 ...more
E
(Sung to the Monty Python tune "Nothing quite as wonderful as money")

There is nothing quite a wonderful as dead people
There is nothing quite a wonderful as that.
They throw themselves of cliffs and waterfalls and make a resounding splat!
Mylissa
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 jumpi ...more
Jeannie Long
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 chapt ...more
James
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...
Grace
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
...more
Brad
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 writi
...more
Michelle
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
...more
Toni
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 b
...more
Lyle Montgomery
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 abo ...more
eLLen
This informative book was easy to read, and helped know how to be safe in Yosemite National Park. The authors wrote the book really well.
Derek
An interesting and well researched collection of stories. I especially liked the direct quotes from survivors and from the incident reports. This is a bigger book than you might expect and I'll admit that I skimmed some sections pretty quickly but overall I liked it and would recommend it for anyone with an interest in Yosemite and the macabre.
Kim Paige
Fascinating read to enhance my paranoia when visiting our favorite national park.
gabrielle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Shaw
Absolutely fascinating.
Justin
Meticulously documents all known deaths in the national park. The book is divided into chapters devoted to drownings, auto-crashes, climbing mishaps, base jumpers, etc. A cautionary, informative, and frequently riveting book for those drawn to the outdoors, generous touches of much needed dark humour bring some much needed levity to the endless tragedies. The authors were former park rangers, and their first hand knowledge and experience give this book unusual depth and insight.
Sara McDonald
This book is haunting but well written. I got this book because a friend of mine was at Yosemite when a horrible accident happened where three kids went over a waterfall. The stories are gruesome at times, but the writing is respectful, and from the perspective of a rescue worker in the park. Sadly, I went to school with one of the people included in this book. Overall, it's a fascinating book for its warnings not to take the dangers of nature and recreation for granted.
Karen
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!
Janelle
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.
Arizonagirl
"Nature demands that we pay attention."
Don't get too close to the edge.
There's a reason BASE jumping is illegal.
Don't hike alone and don't scramble.
Always pay attention to the road when driving.
If you must climb vertical surfaces, always check your safety gear and back yourself up.
Stay out of rivers especially after heavy snow melt.
Horses are more deadly than bears in Yosemite.
Robin Eseny
Excellent source book for idiots like me who have been known to go off and get stranded alone in such places under trying circumstances. Nothing like spending the night alone sans tent and sleeping bag on a glacier during a rain/sleet/ice/snow storm at 11,500 feet in July while your gear is at base camp at 12,000 feet!
Lee Smith
I loved reading off the wall but it would appeal to a small minority of readers. First of all it helps to have visited Yosemite and also it helps if you enjoy the nonfiction adventure genre. I enjoyed the additional history and facts about Yosemite that were incorporated.
Randall
A highly entertaining if exhaustive account of the many stupid ways to kill oneself in Yosemite. As a frequent visitor to Yosemite this book was of more than passing interest. Perhaps the best advice is to skip the book and plan instead to visit Yosemite yourself.
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Michael P. Ghiglieri grew up at Lake Tahoe, Nevada as the great grandson of a Forty-niner, served as a US Army platoon sergeant during the Viet Nam era, then earned his Ph.D. in Ecology in 1979 from the University of California at Davis for his pioneering research on wild chimpanzees in Kiable Forest, Uganda. In addition to teaching university courses in primate behavior and ecology and in human e ...more
More about Michael P. Ghiglieri...
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