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#85976 - 08/02/11 08:26 AM 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year
heart_of_a_tiger Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/04
Posts: 32
Loc: SoCal
Another Very Sad Story - Be careful out there.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) A woman slipped to her death Sunday while descending Half Dome in the rain, the latest accident at Yosemite National Park in a year that is breaking records for the deadliest in recent history.

Fourteen people have died so far this year, including three who were swept over Vernal Fall two weeks ago while taking photographs upstream in the Merced River. In 2007, seven people were killed at the park, the most in any recent year until this one.

One factor in the high number of deaths is a record snowfall that has created treacherous snowmelt, swelling streams and rivers at a time of year when nature in Yosemite is supposed to be relatively tranquil.

For Haley LaFlamme, 26, it likely was the unseasonable rain that brewed on the day her group of four secured a rare permit to ascend the enormous, smooth granite dome, the park's iconic feature. They were among a group of about 20 hikers who were braving the trip to the summit despite the wet conditions, slippery granite and distant lightning and thunder.

The permits limit traffic on the popular 8.5-mile climb. LaFlamme was using the cables that park officials install during the hiking season to help with the steep and sometimes slippery footing up the final pitch of the granite dome.

At about 11 a.m. people in the park began to send messages on Twitter about a raging thunder storm with rain. At noon, Yosemite's emergency communication center received a 911 call reporting a hiker had fallen at the bottom of the cables, where the granite trail becomes less steep and the cables end. Cobb says LaFlamme fell 600 feet from the shoulder. She was dead at the scene.


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#85979 - 08/02/11 09:44 AM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: heart_of_a_tiger]
Ken Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/03
Posts: 2446
Loc: Studio City, Ca
I've read conflicting reports about this accident. Some say that there was a lightning strike that caused her to let go of the cables, and thus fall, and others, not.

What is undisputed is that there was a significant storm up there. The linked video, below, was shot just below the cables where another group decided not to climb, just before the accident occurred. You can judge for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abjc0u0QBOs

For me, I can't help but think about the whole permit thing, and whether it is setting up a dangerous situation, where people will attempt a climb in weather when they should not, because the permits are so precious. Something we know about on Whitney, although the system here has safety valves that make it much easier to get permits. HD seems to be a much bigger problem.

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#85981 - 08/02/11 01:16 PM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: Ken]
tif Offline
Member

Registered: 04/14/09
Posts: 137
Loc: colton, ca
"For me, I can't help but think about the whole permit thing, and whether it is setting up a dangerous situation, where people will attempt a climb in weather when they should not, because the permits are so precious. Something we know about on Whitney, although the system here has safety valves that make it much easier to get permits. HD seems to be a much bigger problem. "

Luckily in the past week they have actually addressed this somewhat: (from http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm)
Updated July 26, 2011
Initial hiker counts for this season indicate that there are numerous no shows among Half Dome permit holders. In an effort to make up for these no shows, the National Park Service (NPS) will manually release additional Half Dome permits each day, at 7 am PDT on the day before the permit date.

you still have to get them online/over the phone, rather than in the park - but at least there is a chance to get them the day before now.

Although as of now, permits are required daily now for half dome

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#85983 - 08/02/11 01:53 PM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: tif]
JustBob Offline
Member

Registered: 01/30/10
Posts: 110
Loc: Dana Point/Chino Hills
I was just up there and didnot have a permit to acsend the final 400 or so feet. I spoke with the ranger posted at the base (Subdome) and he offered me and several others left over permits no one had picked up. He explained it has been a daily thing this year.
The one good thing about the permit process is that there are fewer people on the trail at all above the falls.

JB

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#85988 - 08/02/11 03:47 PM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: JustBob]
Andy Noise Offline
Member

Registered: 07/13/11
Posts: 13
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: JustBob
I was just up there and didnot have a permit to acsend the final 400 or so feet. I spoke with the ranger posted at the base (Subdome) and he offered me and several others left over permits no one had picked up. He explained it has been a daily thing this year.
The one good thing about the permit process is that there are fewer people on the trail at all above the falls.

JB


That is what happen to us last July 5th when permits were weekend only. We went on July 5th (Monday) but needed a permit because it was a Federal Holiday). A ranger gave us am unused permit after we talked to them for awhile.

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#85991 - 08/02/11 05:31 PM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: Andy Noise]
ClimbHigh Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 41
Loc: CA
Sorry to read about another death in the park. When we were there in May, two hikers died on two different trails, and we were on those trails within a day of each tragedy. It's a dangerous place and many people underestimate it.

We ran into the wrong Ranger coming down from our 9th HD climb on July 8th. We were hiking with permits on the JMT from Mammoth to Happy Isles, which I thought was good for HD. The Ranger gave us a warning and "put our names in the computer" (whatever that means). He really wanted to write us a ticket, but he was confused and it turns out I was right and our permit was valid. I would be really PO'd if he had stopped us wrongly on the way up instead of after the fact. Several other hikers we talked to that day also mentioned his aggressive attitude with them. That Ranger wasn't handing out extra permits, that's for sure. But several people coming up the trail were asking for our permit on the way down - it felt like a rock concert. However, the trail traffic was MUCH less than I've ever seen it.

Despite all this, I think the permit system is a good idea if they can work out the details better, like they're starting to do giving out unused permits.

Now if Yosemite could only get a drop box system going for all wilderness permits. Or better yet, mail you your permit. If you've heard the bear scare/ bury your crap/take out your trash/ lecture once, you should be prequalified to sign a form and mail it in to get your permit in the mail. There's no other reason to delay your hike until they open their office. How many times do you have to stand in line while they help some newbie figure out what trail to take and how to open a canister. Their rules make it impossible to get an alpine start on any permitted trail unless you arrive the day before and get arrive before they close. Forcing a late start to get a permit can lead to trouble for some hikers. Not saying this was a factor in this accident, but it could be some day.
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#85995 - 08/02/11 07:36 PM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: ClimbHigh]
LHG Offline
Member

Registered: 02/02/08
Posts: 3
Loc: Lost Hills, CA
This is a screen shot of Half Dome on July 31, the same day of the fall/strike victim. The time is 1201. You can see what appears to be a lightening strike on the cable side of Half Dome.

The source is the Glacier Pt webcam.



Edited by LHG (08/02/11 08:01 PM)

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#86002 - 08/03/11 03:43 AM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: LHG]
bsmith Offline
Member

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 137
Loc: ventura county
that's impressive.

wonder if seeing this photo would stop folks from going up when storm coming.
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#86024 - 08/03/11 04:58 PM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: bsmith]
iPlod Offline
Member

Registered: 10/12/09
Posts: 95
Loc: San Diego, CA
The scary lightning picture wouldn't work for everybody. Not even if you Photoshopped it.

Not long ago we were discussing how some people went ahead with summitting Whitney during a storm They were standing in storm clouds at Trail Crest with their zippers and buttons buzzing. You would expect that most people would respect the warning sign of a buzzing zipper. The key word is MOST. Some people possess that special skill for discounting eminent danger.

Unfortunately, many people see going to places like Whitney or Half Dome as "once in a lifetime" experiences. The challenge of getting permits reinforces the mentality for pushing ahead, even in obviously dangerous conditions. Getting hit by lighting can make being on the mountain a real once in a life time experience.

If only lightning could be guided for hitting discarded wag bags instead of clueless hikers...

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#86029 - 08/03/11 07:37 PM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: iPlod]
Candace Offline
Member

Registered: 05/13/03
Posts: 441
Loc: Lake Arrowhead, CA
Very sad story. I read on another hiker board that many others ascended the cables right after the poor woman fell. Unbelievable.

I've never understood peoples fascination for hiking Half Dome. There are many greater and more beautiful hikes in Yosemite. In addition, the view from both North Dome and especially Clouds Rest easily trumps the view from Half Dome. But to each his own.

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#86093 - 08/07/11 09:26 PM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: Candace]
LA Hiker Offline
Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 6
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Candace


I've never understood peoples fascination for hiking Half Dome. There are many greater and more beautiful hikes in Yosemite. In addition, the view from both North Dome and especially Clouds Rest easily trumps the view from Half Dome. But to each his own.


To the average person, it is the pre-eminent hike in Yosemite. Nice T shirt afterwards, a great sense of achievement and something a reasonably fit day hiker can aspire towards.

They are in the Valley, along with the mystique of the the cables and stories to tell...

I am not surprised it is so popular

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#86097 - 08/08/11 07:28 AM Re: 600-foot fall marks 14th Yosemite death this year [Re: LA Hiker]
JustBob Offline
Member

Registered: 01/30/10
Posts: 110
Loc: Dana Point/Chino Hills
To repeat a worn out phrase......."Everyone has their own Everest".........

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