Lifestyle & Belief

Rock climber dies in freak accident on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park after granite slices his line


The giant rock formations of Yosemite Valley — Half Dome (center) and El Capitan (left) — are visible through a haze caused by humidity, exhaust from vehicles in the valley, or polluted air blowing in from far away San Francisco Bay and the San Juaquin Valley.


David McNew

A rock climber has plunged to his death in an accident near the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

A Yosemite park spokeswoman told reporters that Mason Robison, 38, of Montana was killed after a sliver of granite dislodged and severed his rope.

Robison and a climbing partner were 2,300 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, Kari Cobb said, and about 600 feet from the summit around 9:15 a.m. on Sunday when the accident happened.

Robison put a piece of gear into what's called a "flake" or a deep crack on granite cliff known as the Muir Wall, but it dislodged and severed his line.

He fell about 230 feet, with the second line eventually stopping his fall, but leaving him dangling and hanging motionless, the Associated Press reported.

There was speculation he hit a ledge or the wall itself.

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Robison would have fallen 2,300 feet if he hadn't been trailing a haul line holding his and his partner's food and gear.

The Chronicle Cobb as saying:

"It's a very, very sad situation. A tragic, tragic accident."

El Capitan is favored by experienced rock climbers and normally takes three to five days to summit.

The largest monolith of granite in the world, according to Yosemite's website, it rises more than 3,000 feet from valley floor.

Robison's death is the second accidental death at the park this year, Cobb said, after a 73-year-old Minnesota man died earlier this month after apparently falling at the park's Vernal Fall.