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Second Rockfall Hits Yosemite Day After Climber Killed

NPS Photo

Photo taken Sept. 28, 2017, at approximately 4:30 p.m. of the rockfall that occurred on the Southeast Face of El Capitan.

NPS Photo

Update, Sept. 28, 4:31 p.m.: Yosemite National Park has had another massive rock fall a day after a slab dropped from El Capitan, killing a British climber and injuring a second.

Ken Yager of the Yosemite Climbing Association said Thursday's rock fall was larger than the one a day before on the iconic rock formation.

Yager says he witnessed a large cloud of dust and heard sirens. Images show a huge plume of smoke in the wake of the rock fall. He says traffic on a road near the base of El Capitan has stopped.

No other details were immediately available.


Rockfall on El Capitan yesterday as seen from Yosemite Valley. (Tom Evans / Courtesy NPS)

Update, Sept. 28, 11:17 a.m.:  Yosemite National Park says the rockfall that killed one person and injured another yesterday was actually one of seven rockfalls that occurred in a four-hour span.

The first section of rock fell just before 2 p.m. from about 650 feet above the base of El Capitan.

Park Spokesman Scott Gediman says the visitors, a couple from Great Britain, had planned to climb the granite monolith, but were at its base when the first large sheet broke free. A man was found dead, and a woman was flown out of the park with serious injuries.

The park estimates the rocks totaled 130 feet in length, 65 feet in width and 3 to 10 inches in width.

Yosemite has about 80 recorded rockfalls per year. A rockfall last killed someone in 1999, when rock climber Peter Terbush was killed by rockfall at Glacier Point.

Gediman says there have been 16 fatalities and 100 injuries from such incidents in the last 160 years.

Original Story: One person is dead and another has been injured by falling rock in Yosemite National Park.

Park Rangers believe the rock came from a section along the "Waterfall" climbing route on El Capitan. 

They are not sure how large a section fell or where all of it landed. 

People come from all over to climb the iconic rock. 

The park confirmed the person who was found dead at the scene is a foreign national. The other person was taken to a local hospital.

Investigators have not determined where the people were when the rock gave way or if they knew each other.

The rockfall happened a little before 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Helicopters flew over the area as park employees attempted to determine the size of the rock fall and to assess any future danger.

Ranger Scott Gediman said at least 30 climbers were on the wall.

El Capitan is one of the world's largest monoliths. It stands 4,000 feet from the Yosemite Valley floor.

The identities of the people in the incident have not been released.

The park remains open.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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