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Yosemite Fall Season Starts with Deadly El Cap Rockfall

The 2017 fall climbing season in Yosemite just got going and already there’s been an unfortunate rockfall that has killed one person and left another injured.

Ranger Scott Gediman said Wednesday that many climbers and tourists witnessed the rockfall. He noted that at least 30 climbers were on the wall at the time.

The National Parks Service reported on Sept. 27: “A rockfall of undetermined size occurred in Yosemite National Park this afternoon at about 1:55 p.m. this afternoon.

“The rockfall was reported to have happened from El Capitan, a granite monolith above Yosemite Valley. The release point appears to be near the Waterfall Route, a popular climbing route on the East Buttress of El Capitan. This is the area where Horsetail Fall flows in winter and spring conditions.

“Yosemite National Park Rangers and Yosemite Search and Rescue are currently on scene assessing the situation. The park helicopter is currently flying and also assessing the situation.

“There is one confirmed fatality and one injured person. Park Rangers are working to transport the injured person to receive medical care.outside of the park.”

Ontario big-waller Pete Zabrok, who recorded his 57th ascent of El Cap earlier this year at the age of 57, was on El Cap during the rockfall.

He posted this on Facebook following the fall: “A 100 foot by 100 foot piece of El Cap just fell off directly above WaterFall Route. We are past it and we are safe.

“Had we been underneath it we would have died for sure. Unfortunately I believe they were two or three people at the base who may have been hit. My sincere condolences to all and I pray for the safety of those on the ground.

“A first responder was just helicoptered in. There have been three subsequent enormous rock falls and this rescuer is in tremendous peril.

“I just happened to be tagging up some gear at the precise moment the rock fell. It was as big as an apartment building.”

After the initial major rockfall, at least another five took place in the same location, which means there might be more to come.

In 2015, a section of the popular Northwest Face of Half Dome fell away, luckily no one was in the area.

This is a developing story, check back for more. For more on Yosemite rockfalls see here.

Listen to a phone interview with Canadian Zabrok here and for the Supertopo conversation and photos, visit here.

Witnessed the Yosemite Valley El Capitan rockslide from Half Dome this afternoon. Sorry to hear at least one fatality.

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