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Home National & State Parks Yosemite Climber Dies After Being hit By Falling Rock at Yosemite National Park

Climber Dies After Being hit By Falling Rock at Yosemite National Park

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A 28-year-old climber visiting from the United Kingdom died in a rock climbing accident at Yosemite National Park in northern California on June 2, 2013.

Felix Joseph Kiernan, from London, England, on Sunday afternoon was climbing on the East Buttress of El Capitan, a popular climbing route in Yosemite Valley, when he was struck by a rock, rangers said.

elcap_namwallKiernan and his climbing partner were approximately 600 feet up the climbing route when a loose block was dislodged. The block, estimated to be one foot by two feet, fell approximately 150 feet before striking Kiernan and causing fatal injuries. The incident occurred at approximately 2 p.m.

A second party climbing just below Kiernan immediately called the Yosemite Emergency Communication Center via cell phone and reported the incident. Yosemite Park Rangers and Yosemite Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel were immediately dispatched to El Capitan where they began climbing the route to reach the climbing party.

Park Rangers reached Kiernan around 4 p.m. and pronounced him dead. A California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter, H-40, and the park's helicopter, Helicopter 551, assisted in the incident by inserting park rangers and rescue equipment onto the wall and hoisting the victim to Yosemite Valley. Park Rangers rappelled the route with Kiernan's partner and the second climbing party.

Kiernan's fatal accident came one day after Aleh Kalman, a 19-year-old male from Sacramento, Calif., was swept over the precipice of Nevada Fall and remains missing.

More than 100 climbing accidents occur in Yosemite each year, rangers said. Of these, 15 to 25 parties require a rescue.

Rangers advise visitors that climbing in Yosemite has inherent risks and climbers assume complete responsibility for their own safety.

The National Park Service does not maintain routes. Loose rock and other hazards can exist on any route. Rescue is not a certainty. If you get into difficulties, be prepared to get yourself out of them. Know what to do in any emergency, including injuries, evacuations, unplanned bivouacs, or rapid changes in weather.

Safety depends on having the right gear and the right attitude. Practice self-rescue techniques before you need them. Courtesy is an element of safety. Falling rock or gear is a serious hazard. Be careful when climbing above others. Do not create a dangerous situation by passing another party without their consent.

For more information, visit the park's Web site at
www.nps.gov/yose .

 
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