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Lives Lost in Yosemite National Park

Lives Lost in Yosemite National Park

This past weekend, a hiker died on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. She was only 26. Reportedly it was raining and the granite on the Half Dome climb is slippery enough even when dry. If there is any hint of rain, don’t do the Half Dome climb, “Avoid Half Dome on days when there are thunder clouds in the area – it’s not worth the risk. Even rain without lightning will make the granite on the cable route dangerously slick, so it’s best to skip stormy days altogether.” (Source: yosemitehikes.com) Lightning strikes on Half Dome are common. A book has been written about an incident in which two hikers died from lightning strikes there.

It is at least a 12 mile hike and requires 10 to 14 hours. The elevation gain is 4,800 feet and it is a very difficult hike, meaning you must be physically fit in order to complete it. If you are afraid of heights, it wouldn’t be wise to attempt it. Also, for a person who gets stuck going up the last 400 vertical feet with cables, you could be endangering the other hikers by causing them to go around you or, making matters more challenging, is that the trail and cables up the slippery granite are usually crowded or very crowded. If one person falls, and bumps into another then there could be damage done to the person who is struck or both. Even worse, on the slippery granite there isn’t anything to grab so it is likely the person will fall hundreds of feet until they are killed on impact. The last part of the hike is very steep and you have to have cables to hold onto to pull yourself up. Some people have gone outside the cables and worn the granite down which has made it smoother and more slippery. Permits are now required to do this very strenuous hike. Hiking it without a permit can result in a severe fine. The Half Dome trail, like Yosemite itself, tends to get quite crowded on weekends during summers. Three young adults died this summer when one fell into a raging river right above a huge waterfall, and two people fell in trying to save the first. They were swept over the falls very quickly. Water levels in the Sierra have been unusually high, so rivers and streams are full of rushing, cold water.

People unfamiliar with such conditions are surprised by how strong the currents are, and the coldness of the water. Earlier in the summer two men were swept away by powerful, high waters running over a bridge they were trying to cross. One was trying to save the other who fell. In May, a hiker fell into the Merced River and drowned. With a little knowledge, all of these deaths could have been prevented.

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5:52AM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

Thanks for the article.

7:01PM PST on Jan 28, 2012

Sorry I got cut off, hears the REST of the story!!

But the really scary thing is what I read in the news just months later where a large landslide had killed a group of Japanese tourists hiking in the exact same place that my friends and i were standing during that quake!!! Seems that in winter, water seeps into cracks in the rocks on the tops of cliffs and if it freezes it expands and can push out the cliff face enough to cause a slide.
The paper said boulders the size of houses fell on the hapless hikers. That really freaked me out!! Hope you liked the story of my adventure!

6:58PM PST on Jan 28, 2012

The beauty of Yosemite is legend, I can't think of a more spectacular place in California or maybe anywhere else either, but it is a dangerous place for those who go in unprepared or willy nilly go wandering around with there head in the clouds. Back in the late 70's I went camping with friends and we wanted to hike to little yosemite valley but there were no permits left that day so we got one for Yosemite falls trail which is a BIG vertical climb so not many were willing to go up that. As we prepared in the parking lot there was a small earthquake, got us exited but no big deal. As we made our ascent the trail got steeper and narrower and started switch-backing. we came to an area that was underneath two large cliffs at least 800 ft above us as best as I can recall, on both sides of the trail. we were about half way up to the top there when the big one hit, a quite large quake that scared the crap out of us all. our hispanic friend dropped to her knees and crossed herself in prayer while I just looked up to see if any rocks would drop on us. Nothing fell on us but we heard a big roaring sound and saw across the narrow valley that there was at least 3 BIG rock-slides that went top to bottom of those cliffs and put up big clouds of dust! Scary!!! We were fine but the next day when we hiked down we found out that at least several people had been severely injured by the rocks! They were on the little Yosemite trail that we wanted to hike that morning!! Whew!

But the really

7:46PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

thanks.

11:35PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thanks for sharing!

9:10PM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

Why didn't she heed the warnings not to go up the cables when the rocks are slippery and wet?
Sorry, I just don't get it.

6:40PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

This is the 14th death in Yosemite this summer! Three people were swept over Vernal Falls taking photographs. While it is indeed sad, it should serve as a reminder to hold the utmost
respect for nature. My family camped in Yosemite every summer when I was very young. My older sister and I were chased my a mother bear protecting her cubs. Luckily, my dad scared her off, and we were unhurt, but, taught a good lesson to not wander away from our campground.

We need to learn, and teach our young, a sense of vulnerability to the elements of nature, it may mean the difference between survival or not...

10:58PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

noted

6:29AM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

Too many people have dangerous hobbies..and I always wonder why we as a society will spend 10,000 bucks searching for some lost hiker on some mountain...but we won't feed a homeless person.

12:54AM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

We all need to be careful and think ahead -- i am sorry for this loss, but what about all the bodies we are throwing at these useless wars?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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