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

Yosemite Hikers Go Over Vernal Falls

“Three hikers are missing in Yosemite National Park, after they reportedly fell over a guardrail at Vernal Falls. The hikers, thought to be a woman and two men, are believed to have gone over Vernal Falls on Tuesday afternoon.

After receiving multiple calls from visitors reporting the accident, officials at Yosemite dispatched thirty rescue workers to search the area. A half-mile area of the Mist Trail, which leads to the waterfall, has been closed while they conduct the search.

Witnesses reported seeing a man and woman climb over the guardrail to get a better view of the waterfall, even encouraging their children to climb over too. The parents started to slip before the children made it over the rail, and a male who tried to save the parents also fell over the edge of the 320 foot waterfall.

After the hikers fell, a witness described seeing a man and woman holding onto a rock or island in the water. Another witness said that the third hiker was floating in the water nearby. They were then swept over the waterfall.

Unfortunately, this has happened before. In the past ten years, ten people have died in and around Vernal Falls, which is 1.5 miles from the Happy Isle Nature Centre in Yosemite Valley.

There are warnings posted in several languages telling people of the dangers of going beyond the guardrail.

The hike to Vernal Falls is three miles with a 1000 foot rise in elevation. It is aptly called Mist Trail, due to the fact the hikers are often sprayed with mist from the waterfall as they climb to the top. The hike can take anywhere from two to five hours. It is one of the most popular hikes at Yosemite National Park. At the top of the Falls there is a pool called Emerald Pool, with a 20 degree slope of rock with a small waterfall that flows into the pond, called the Silver Apron. Swimming in the pool is against Park regulations, due to strong undercurrents which are not visible from the surface.

Due to record snowfall recently, the waterfalls in Yosemite are spectacular, but the turbulent waters have claimed the lives of at least eight people this year alone. In May a hiker slipped and fell into the Merced River, his body recovered hours later. In June, two mean were swept off a bridge, and a man who disappeared while hiking is still missing.”

Today News at MSNBC

Yosemite Rangers Fear Hikers Swept Over Falls

Vernal Fall – Wikipedia

Yosemite Hikes – The Mist Trail

Yosemite National Park (US National Park Service)