YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CBS/AP) – A climbing guide who has helped people get to the top of Yosemite’s El Capitan for 12 years says the big rock fall that killed at least one person and injured another was the biggest slide he’s ever seen at the site.
John DeGrazio of YExplore Yosemite Adventures said Thursday he had just reached the summit with a group of climbers when they saw large plumes of dust rising up the vertical wall of El Capitan.
DeGrazio says he’s seen avalanches and rock falls on El Capitan in the past but that Wednesday’s rock fall was “more significant than anything I’ve seen before.”
According to numbers released by the park on Thursday, preliminary estimates show that the total volume of the rockfall is about 16,000 cubic feet – about 1,300 tons. The rocks appear to have fallen about 650 feet above the base of El Capitan.
The climbers involved in the fall were a couple visiting the park from Great Britain, officials say. The man was pronounced dead at the park after the fall, while the woman has been flown out of the park with serious injuries.
He says climbers are aware of the risks of the sport and that granite erosion takes place on El Capitan and in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
He says El Capitan climbers have been lucky that many rock slides have not killed people. Park officials say it has been 18 years since the last rockfall death at Yosemite.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.