Earth Changes: El Capitan In Yosemite National Park Has Rockfall, One Dead

Rockfall at Yosemite's El Capitan kills one, injures another, California

A deadly rockfall occurred in Yosemite National Park from El Capitan, a granite monolith above Yosemite Valley at about 13:55 PDT (20:55 UTC) on September 27, 2017. The incident happened at the height of the climbing season.

The release point appears to be near the “Waterfall Route”, a popular climbing route on the East Buttress of El Capitan, park officials said. This is the area where Horsetail Fall flows in winter and spring conditions.

There is one confirmed fatality and one injured person who was transported to receive medical care outside of the park.

This is the climbing season in Yosemite National Park and there are many climbers on El Capitan and other climbing routes in the park, officials said, adding that the Yosemite National Park remains open and visitor services are not affected.

Officials didn’t provide details on the size of the rockfall, but climbers posted pictures on social media from hundreds of feet up the wall showing billowing white dust moments after the crash.

“I saw a piece of rock, white granite the size of an apartment building, at least 30 x 30 m (100 x 100 feet), suddenly just come peeling off the wall with no warning,” said Canadian climber Peter Zabrok, 57, who was scaling El Capitan and was above the rock fall, as reported by AP.

Rock falls are common in Yosemite but seldom fatal.

At least 30 climbers were on the wall at the time, but it was not clear if the victims were climbers or tourists, ranger Scott Gediman said.

El Capitan – Yosemite National Park. Credit: Mike Murphy

El Capitan (Spanish for The Captain, The Chief) is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western en.

The granite monolith extends about 900 m (3 000 feet) from base to summit along its tallest face and is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers and BASE jumpers.

The top of El Capitan can be reached by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail next to Yosemite Falls, then proceeding west. For climbers, the challenge is to climb up the sheer granite face.

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