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Tragedy In Yosemite | British Climber Killed On El Capitan While Celebrating Wedding Anniversary

Andrew Foster, from Wales, was killed after a slab 40 metres tall and 19 metres wide fell from El Capitan.

On Wednesday, a huge slab dropped from the iconic El Capitan in Yosemite; killing one British climber and injuring a second. The climber killed by the rock fall has been named as Andrew Foster, 32, from Wales. National park authorities have since revealed that his wife, who was climbing with him at the time, is undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital. The pair were in the area celebrating their first wedding anniversary.

Thursday saw another massive rock fall on El Capitan, with another significant slab cracking cracking off the formation with a loud roar and sending huge plumes of white dust surging through the valley below. Authorities have stated that this incident injured one person, resulting in them being airlifted to hospital.

Ken Yager, Founder and President of the Yosemite Climbing Association, said he witnessed both falls and that the latest one appeared to be “substantially bigger” than the first one.

Broke loose again, we just topped out. Ground shaking, rockfall crossed road

A post shared by Ryan Sheridan (@ryansheridan) on

Climber Ryan Sheridan had only just made it to the summit of El Capitan (2,307m), on Thursday, when the rock slide occurred below him. Sharing an image of his view on Instagram, Sheridan wrote “Broke loose again, we just topped out. Ground shaking, rockfall crossed road.”

Photos shared on Twitter by reporter Connie Tran, shot from inside the valley, show the size and scale of the rockfall and it’s subsequent plume. “My photographer and I witnessed the whole ordeal, it was so loud, thunderous,” she wrote.

The slab that fell on Wednesday is reckoned to have been about 40 metres tall and 19 metres wide. It fell on the east buttress of El Capitan, down the popular “waterfall route.”

Foster, who was killed on Wednesday, and his wife, who was seriously injured, were hiking at the bottom of El Capitan in preparation for an ascent when the rock fell.

Greg Stock, a Yosemite geologist, has said the rock falls were not caused by climbers and that it was most likely due to the expansion and contraction of El Capitan’s granite that occurs due to the contrasting effects of summer heat and winter cold.

It’s estimated that rocks break loose and fall on the world-famous park’s climbing about 80 times a year. What happened on Wednesday is considered to be a rare event not because it happened, but because it turned deadly.

Alex Honnold, who made history earlier this year, by becoming the first person to solo climb up El Capitan without ropes said “It’s a lot like a lightning strike… sometimes geology just happens.”

Our thoughts go out to the friends and families of those affected by these incidents.

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