This man was climbing California’s El Capitan when he saw the massive rockfall far below him, just a day after a rockfall killed a man who was vacationing with his wife.
The mountain known as El Capitan, located in Yosemite National Park in Northern California, is a tourist trap for enthusiastic climbers. Many have scaled the side of this monstrous granite monolith, some without ropes. A recent series of rockfalls, however, has caused a large slab of El Capitan to break loose, reshaping the mountain’s profile. And this man was just close enough to catch it all on camera without getting injured.
This all happened just a day after a rockfall in the same area killed a man and injured his wife, who were visiting from the UK. Jim Evans was driving when a rock came through the windshield, striking his head and letting in a downpour of dust and debris. His wife Rachel survived but not without injury.
What would possess someone to attempt to climb half of the Yosemite Valley? Is it the same force that tempts us to swerve into oncoming traffic or throw an iPhone off of a tall bridge? Whatever it is, it’s all the motivation I need to stay the hell away from mountains like El Capitan.
And just like that, the phrase “don’t look down” becomes meaningless, and my childhood fear of heights is back.
The man filming those videos is climber Peter Zabrock (and if he doesn’t become a born-again Christian after his experience then I lose a bet). After five rockfalls in a day I hope Zabrock gives climbing a short hiatus.
Unfortunately there aren’t as many tips for surviving rockfalls as there are other natural disasters such as earthquakes or avalanches. This snowboarder came out of an avalanche virtually untouched. But rockfalls can be trickier to avoid/survive. Those in the vicinity of a rockfall are advised to take shelter below/behind large boulders to avoid falling debris. Just something to keep in mind for you adventure-seekers out there.
El Capitan has had plenty of climbers risk their lives before the foundation began to crumble. Just look at this daredevil who only four months ago became the first climber to make it all the way up the side of El Capitan… without a rope.