The Wrangler

Deadly Rockfall at Yosemite National Park

John Kameen

John Kameen

Abigail Kim, Photojournalist

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On September 27 around 2 pm, 30 mountain climbers were preparing to climb El Capitan when a massive slab crashed into the popular route. While climbing, a British couple faced injuries along the “East Buttress of El Capitan.” Andrew Foster was killed, and his wife Lucy was injured. (LA Times).

 

Andrew and Lucy Foster were celebrating their first anniversary at Yosemite National Park. Hiking leisurely at the bottom of El Capitan, a granite slab “130 feet tall and 213 feet wide” loosened. The release of the rockfall was marked on a waterfall route to the seasonal Horsetail Fall. This is where “experienced climbers around the world” challenge themselves to scale the “3,000 foot granite monolith” that towers over Yosemite Valley (LA Times).

 

Yosemite Park’s spokesman, Scott Gediman stated that all the rocks that fell weighed out to approximately 1,300 tons.

 

As social media posts gradually filter in, plumes of dust can be seen gradually subsiding, so large that it was difficult to determine the mere size of the rockfall.

 

According to Fox News, the couple chronicled their adventures on social media and a blog named “The Adventures and Thoughts of Andrew & Lucy Foster.” They described themselves as “passionate warriors” despite that they “aren’t extreme athletes” (Cam and Bear).

 

Nathan Duong (12) expresses his condolences for the family and friends affected by the death, “My heart goes out to his wife, family, and friends. It’s really hard to see such an activity with high hopes to just end like that.” Nathan and his family had briefly visited Yosemite National Park for their summer vacation trip, and he states that “it’s terrible for such an event to happen at such a beautiful, serene tourist attraction.”

 

Patagonia, the company which Andrew was employed to, mourned the loss of “a dear friend… passionate climber, mountaineer, and skier” (The Guardian). The condition of Lucy Foster is still unknown, although friends state that she is stable and conscious.

 

Rocks at this popular site break loose and “crash about 80 times a year.” The last time a climber was killed by rockfall was in 2013, a climber from Montana. A rock had “dislodged and sliced his climbing rope,” says Fox News. Park rangers state that since 1857, “16 people have died… and injured more than 100 others.”

 

Again on Thursday evening, another massive chunk of granite “broke off of El Capitan, injuring an old man” and sending off clouds of white soot and dust.

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