Yosemite is One of the Most Deadly Rock Climbing Destinations in the World. That’s Why It’s So Popular for Climbers.

Photo by Billy Onjea

There are inherit dangers in any rock climbing scenario. Sturdy equipment, knowledge of your surroundings and climbing experience all play a factor in how successful any climb will be. Unfortunately, when you are attempting dangerous acts in nature, anything is possible.

Rock climbing’s inherit risk causes close to three rock climbing deaths a year in Yosemite National Park. The park’s beautiful rock faces remain the most popular, and most dangerous, rock climbing destinations in the world.

Climbers from all over the world travel to Yosemite every year to climb the sheer rock faces of Half Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks and Glacier Point. Most make it out unscathed. Some don’t make it out alive. Surprisingly, the latter doesn’t seem to stop many.

Even though most climbers in Yosemite use rope, they can still maintain serious injuries when falling, although one must assume that the ropes prevent many fatalities. Here is a video of what it looks like to fall while attached to a rope:

A San Diego man came face to face with imminent death when he fell 50 feet down the face of Half Dome, breaking his back, foot, wrist and ribs. He was airlifted out and is expected to fully recover. Here is his story:

Three catastrophic incidents happened in September 2017, including a giant rock slab falling off the face of El Capitan, killing one and injuring another. In June 2018, two experienced climbers fell to their death on El Capitan, sending shockwaves through the rock climbing world. But the climbers keep coming to Yosemite in search of a rock climbing adventure.

The professionals (and maybe some insane people) are the only ones who dare climb Yosemite’s giant rock formations. Take for example Alex Honnold, Yosemite’s resident crazy person dubbed the “Michael Jordan of Rock Climbing” who ascended Half Dome without a rope:

A documentary of Honnold’s historic climb was highlighted in Free Solo, which won the Oscar for best documentary. Honnold also broke the speed record on El Capitan in 2018 with teammate Tommy Caldwell. The two remain the kings of rock climbing in Yosemite.

Yosemite lure in rock climbing is most likely the reason it records a high death toll every year. Of course, these events of tragedy and severe injury don’t seem to faze the enthusiastic rock climbers who want to climb some of the world’s most famous rock formations.The danger is probably what makes rock climbing compelling to many. To each his own.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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