Dou­ble rock falls at famed Yosemite don’t de­ter climbers

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By SCOTT SMITH

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.

AP PHOTO VIA Ta­mara Goode

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.

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