Rock climber falls from Higher Cathedral Spire in Yosemite

A chunk of granite, witnesses say almost 12 stories tall, fell from the side of El Capitan leaving gaping holes in the sides of the fabled rock formation and lingering questions, as climbers again work to reach the top.

On Thursday, more than 30,000 tons of rock fell off of El Capitan into the valley below.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman said the couple were not climbing when a huge sheet of granite sloughed off the iconic monolith. There's no word on his condition.

On Wednesday, a man from the United Kingdom was killed and his wife injured while hiking along a path at the base of El Capitan.

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"If we felt any area was unsafe we wouldn't be allowing people in there", Yosemite geologist Greg Stock said Friday. There are about 80 rockfalls a year in the park, although many go unreported. Rescuers reached them within an hour and pulled them from the rubble, where they were trapped under a rock, Gediman said. During the cataclysm, the mountain climber who was on the mountain of El Caftan fell down together with piece of rock.

Evans' wife, Rachel Evans, told KSEE that the couple and two other relatives had ended a three-day visit to Yosemite and were leaving Thursday when the rock slide happened.

The rock falls came during the peak of the climbing season for El Capitan, with climbers from around the world trying their skill against the sheer cliff faces.

Will Russ the owner of Santa Barbara Rock Gym says one of his members was at the El Capitan formation when the tragedy occurred. But Gediman said all of the rock falls combined on Wednesday weighed 1,300 tons (1,100 metric tons). "It's like witnessing the largest natural event that I've ever seen".

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"It's kind of an inherently unsafe sport", Hayden Jamieson, 24, of Mammoth Lakes, California, said as he prepared to head up El Capitan early Saturday.

All areas in California's Yosemite Valley are open a day after a major rock fall from the famed El Capitan rock formation killed one person and injured another.

These climbers snapped photos from above during the incident. It was not clear Thursday if the victims were climbers or tourists.

Yosemite National Park identified the man Thursday as Andrew Foster, 32.

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Longtime Yosemite climber Peter Zabrok (ZAY'-brok) says he's never seen anything like the chunk of rock that broke off. Zabrok said it was as big as an apartment building.

  • Ryan Wade