Double rock falls at famed Yosemite don’t deter climbers
In the close-knit community of climbers who flock from around the world to cling to the mountainside precipices at Yosemite National Park, climbers were awed but undeterred by successive rock falls that sent tons of granite plunging to the ground, killing one and injuring two over two days.
SAN FRANCISCO — A massive new rock fall hit Yosemite National Park on Thursday, cracking with a thundering roar off the El Capitan rock formation, injuring one person and sending huge plumes of white dust surging through the valley floor below.
The slide came a day after a giant slab of granite plunged from the same formation, killing a British man on a hiking and climbing visit and injuring his wife.
Climber Ryan Sheridan had just reached the top of El Capitan, a 7,569foot formation, when the rock let loose below him Thursday.
“There was so much smoke and debris,” he said by cellphone. “It filled the entire valley with smoke.”
“It was in the same location of the previous rock fall. A larger rock fall let loose, easily three times the size,” Sheridan said.
One person was injured and was flown to a hospital, park ranger and spokesman Scott Gediman said. There was no immediate word on the person’s condition.
Meanwhile, the man killed Wednesday was identified as Andrew Foster, 32, of Wales. The park didn’t identify his wife but said she remained hospitalized.
The park indicated that seven rock falls occurred during a four-hour period Wednesday on the southeast face of El Capitan. However, it was rare for such a collapse to kill anyone, longtime climbers said Thursday.
Rocks at the world-renowned park’s climbing routes break loose and crash down about 80 times a year. The elite climbers who flock to the park using ropes and their fingertips to defy death as they scale sheer cliff faces know the risk but also know it’s rare to get hit and killed by the rocks.
This photo provided by Tamara Goode shows vehicles among a massive cloud of thick dust spreading across Yosemite Valley after a new rock fall from El Capitan on Thursday in Yosemite National Park.