Aug 4, 2011

Half Dome Death in 2011 Sum-ups to 14

Half Dome Tragedy (SFGate) - A 26-year-old San Ramon woman plummeted 600 feet to her death Sunday while climbing the perilous summit cables on Yosemite National Park's Half Dome amid stormy, wet weather.

It was the 14th fatality this year in the sprawling wilderness full of towering cliffs and thundering waterfalls. Hayley LaFlamme, her sister and two friends had reached the top of the colossal escarpment and were just past the midpoint of the descent around noon when LaFlamme apparently slipped and lost her grip on the cables. She slid and tumbled down the nearly vertical granite slope to the rocks below. Search teams recovered her body later that day.

Park officials said a ranger at the base of the dome was checking the required hiking permits and warning visitors to avoid the treacherous climb, which is so steep in the last 400 feet that hikers must haul themselves up along thick metal cables to the summit.

LaFlamme and her companions were among about two dozen people who decided Sunday to brave the slick granite, which had been pounded by thunderstorms that morning. It wasn't clear Monday how many of the 20 or so other hikers on the world-famous outcropping, which rises 8,800 feet above sea level, witnessed the fall.

"The ranger told people that the weather was bad and not to go up the cables," said Kari Cobb, spokeswoman for Yosemite. "But ultimately it is the visitor's decision whether they want to take that risk."

To read full article, click HERE.

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