December 13, 2017

Yosemite Climber Falls From Half Dome

With a record snowfall and higher amounts of water rushing through the Yosemite National Park, many pathways, rock surfaces and popular climbing areas have become extremely dangerous for the average park goer.

The latest fatality in Yosemite was Helen LaFlamme. The 26 year old was descending Half Dome, a popular climbing attraction in Yosemite, when she lost her footing on the slick granite and fell 600 feet to her death. A sudden rain storm hit the park causing the granite rocks to become very slippery making Half Dome difficult to climb when LaFlamme attempted her descent.

In July, three hikers hopped the protective guard rail around Vernal Fall to take pictures and were swept away by the enormous strength of the rushing water causing them to fall from the 317 foot ledge.

Rivers in Yosemite National Park, such as the Merced River, are running three times higher than average which causes a very fast, strong current, and the water levels are predicted to remain high for several more weeks. Many people who live in cities go to Yosemite to enjoy the outdoors and nature, but they are unaware of the dangerous conditions in the park, especially when the rivers are running so unusually high. Six of the recent deaths in Yosemite, have been water related.

Foolish risks and unpreparedness can contribute to the dangers campers, hikers, and climbers face when visiting Yosemite. Visitors are urged to be extremely cautious near the water and falls around the park and people are warned not to take any unnecessary risks and to follow all of the warning signs that are posted throughout the park. Accidents at places such as Half Dome do occur, and they are usually due to overcrowding and sudden storms that pop up unexpectedly which cause footing to become unstable.

The total death toll so far in 2011 in Yosemite is the highest ever experienced at the park. At 14 Yosemite has never seen so many fatalities. On average the park sees 4 to 6 deaths per season. Yosemite this year has also seen a higher than usual influx of visitors compared to recent years. The park remains a popular vacation destination, but people need to understand and realize the dangers of the rushing rivers and be prepared for dangerous situations that can arise when hiking or mountain climbing in the park.

Read more:
LA Times
Yosemite Deaths Now At A Record-Breaking 14 Following LaFlamme’s Death
Yosemite Death Trap Fatalities Highest in Years, Say Experts
Yosemite waterfall accident a cautionary tale for Yosemite visitors