May 20, 2013
Yesterday a tragic accident took place high up on Yosemite’s El Capitan. Reports at present are somewhat sketchy, and the Park Service has not yet released details of the accident, but the following has been gleaned from first hand reports posted by several climbers who were present:
A climber on the upper reaches of the Muir Wall on El Capitan which lies just to the left of the Nose route. Apparently, the climbing leader triggered a “HUGE” rock-fall which may have killed him and did cut his lead-climbing rope, but not his haul line (which is used to haul up food and water and extra gear). The climber fell all the way to the end of the haul line (perhaps 300 feet). However, it may be that the block did not kill him but rather it was the impact on his body when the haul line stopped him suddenly. That rope was a static, not an elastic line, like lead-climbing ropes are. There he was held by the haul line, and he hung for several hours before the Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) team helicoptered to El Cap’s summit and successfully recovered the body. The fate of the climber’s partner remains unknown to the public at this time.
At least two teams of climbers at the base of the Nose route were threatened by the rock-fall but were not seriously injured as rocks of varying sizes fell past them. A first-hand account of the incident by Mark Chapman (Chappy) one of the Nose climbers can be found here:
Sending out sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and heart-felt gratitude to the YOSAR team…