On Sunday, May 19 a climbing party of two was scaling the Muir Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite, according to Yosemite Public Affairs Officer Kari Cobb. The leader, Mason Robison, 38, of Montana was climbing the 27th pitch, 30 feet above his partner when the flake of rock he was on, pulled off. Robison fell with the flake, and the flake severed Robison’s rope that was attached to his partner.
Robison was caught by his haul line 230 feet below. Rescue teams had to fly via helicopter to the top of El Capitan and then be lowered to Robison and his partner, as they were approximately 2,300 feet above the valley floor. Robison was pronounced dead when rescuers reached him.
His partner was uninjured, Cobb said.
This is the first climbing fatality in Yosemite this year, according to Cobb. It is the second accidental fatality of the year. The first was the death of Kenneth Stensby earlier this month. Stensby fell from a cliff near the top of Vernal Fall.
Half Dome cables to be installed Friday
The cables on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park will be in place and open for the season on Friday, May 24, weather permitting. The cables provide access to the summit of Half Dome, one of Yosemite’s most popular hikes.
Visitors are required to have a permit to ascend the Half Dome cables seven days per week. The majority of the permits were distributed through a lottery system that ended in March. However, approximately 50 permits per day are available through a two day in advance lottery. Visitors without a Half Dome permit wishing to hike the cables may enter the lottery two days in advance of their planned day hike by visiting www.recreation.gov or by calling 1.877.444.6777. For more information regarding the lottery and the Half Dome cables, please visit www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm.
The trail to Half Dome from Yosemite Valley is an extremely strenuous hike covering over 17 miles. Hikers gain 4,800 feet of elevation along the trail that passes highlights such as Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, before reaching the cables on Half Dome’s steep granite shoulder. Metal cables and wooden planks are placed along the steep shoulder of the dome to assist hikers to the summit.
Visitors are advised to take appropriate precautions when planning a hike of this length and difficulty, and to be prepared for changing weather and trail conditions. Thunder and lightning are common occurrences in the High Sierra during the summer and fall seasons. Hikers should not attempt to summit Half Dome when rain or thunderstorms are forecasted and are advised to use extreme caution when the rocks are wet. –NPS/LAK