Rockfall on Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan kills climber, injures another

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 9:36am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 9:37am

One person was killed Wednesday and another injured in a rockfall on the granite face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, an official said.

Rocks came crashing down at the height of climbing season with at least 30 climbers on the wall, ranger Scott Gediman said.

The injured person was taken to a hospital near the park. No names were immediately released.

El Capitan is one of the world’s largest granite monoliths towering vertically 1,219 metres from the Yosemite Valley floor.

“It’s the heart of climbing season,” said Gediman, adding that the park bustled with visitors. “It was witnessed by a lot of people.”

Alex Honnold’s rope-free ascent of 900m El Capitan is greatest climbing feat in history

Several people made emergency calls, reporting the rockfall from the Waterfall route on the east buttress of El Capitan.

Officials didn’t say how large the rockfall was, but climbers posted pictures on social media from hundreds of metres up the wall showing a large billow of white dust moments after the crash.

Mountaineers from around the world travel to the park in the Sierra Nevada to scale El Capitan’s sheer face. The latest rockfall could change the cliff’s contour for future climbers.

Fall is one of the peak seasons for climbing because the days are long and the weather is warm.

Rockfalls are common in Yosemite, but seldom fatal. Yosemite remains open, and the latest rockfall doesn’t affect other activities throughout the park, rangers said.