SAR, Drugs, and Rock N’ Roll: Former Yosemite Ranger and Search and Rescue Officer reflects on rescues and adventures during Yosemite’s Golden Age
Butch Farabee, an Indiana native, had an expansive, 34-year National Park Service career, during which he served as a ranger and eventually rose to the rank of superintendent. Perhaps most impressively, he was the agency’s first emergency services coordinator, conducting more than 900 rescues, 800 of which were in Yosemite National Park in the rowdy and colorful 1970s.
In fact, Butch donned his badge during the height of Yosemite’s wild “Stonemaster” era of rock climbing, when climbing’s wiliest legends—from Jim Bridwell to John Long—were putting up bold first ascents, hiding out in Camp 4 and playing baseball with the rangers, who were both their friends and foils.
The climber’s side of the stories are well known (see Valley Uprising trailer below), but what was it like from a ranger’s perspective? Butch, now retired in living in Tucson, Arizona, tells us in his matter-of-fact style that Yosemite’s rock n’ roll days were crazy and contentious, but ultimately, climbers and rangers were united in their passion for the park that brought them together.