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Rock climber falls from Higher Cathedral Spire in Yosemite

01 October 2017

A series of rockfalls on El Capitan this week - at the height of prime Yosemite climbing season - killed one climber, left a 130-foot scar on the monolith and sent a chill through the climbing community.

"It's a lot like a lightning strike", said Alex Honnold, who made history June 3 for being the first to climb El Capitan alone and without ropes.

The climbing community in the Bay Area is shaken up after two risky rock falls in Yosemite Valley this week.

The first slab fell from a peak at the world-class climbing destination El Capitan on Wednesday afternoon, followed by a much larger chunk of granite from the same section of the mountainside Thursday afternoon. A natural part of erosion occurring over millennia, rock fall is unpredictable but often occurs during or after heavy rain or snow, like the unusally snowy 2017-18 winter.

He says climbers are aware of the risks of the sport and that granite erosion takes place on El Capitan and elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. But fatalities are rare.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman says the size of this rockfall is not unusual, in fact, its size compares with other rockfalls in the area.

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She said even with the rock slides she will be going there before the end of the year.

That fall injured Jim Evans, who was driving out of the national park when rubble broke through the sunroof of his SUV, hitting the resident of Naples, Florida, in the head, said his wife. "We don't see a strong link between climbing and rock falls".

On Wednesday pieces of a massive rock killed Andrew Foster of Whales, 32, and seriously injured his wife. "Let's go!' and at the same time my husband reached up and he was like 'Oh, my head, my head" because it was bleeding profusely and hurting".

"We are a young married couple who enjoy nothing more than getting out and having adventures in the mountains together", it reads. The injured person was flown out via air ambulance to receive medical care at an area hospital. The park said at least 30 climbers were on the formation Wednesday during the deadly rock fall.

The man killed in yesterday's rockfall has been identified as Andrew Foster of Wales.

Rock climber falls from Higher Cathedral Spire in Yosemite