Rock climber dies after being struck by falling rock on El Capitan

June 3, 2013 

A 28-year-old climber died in a rock climbing accident on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park Sunday, June 2. Felix Joseph Kiernan, from London, England, was climbing on the East Buttress of El Capitan, a popular climbing route in Yosemite Valley, when he was struck by a rock.

Kiernan and his climbing partner were approximately 600 feet up the climbing route when a loose block was dislodged. The block, estimated to be one foot by two feet, fell approximately 150 feet before striking Kiernan and causing fatal injuries. The incident occurred at approximately 2 p.m.

A second party climbing just below Kiernan immediately called the Yosemite Emergency Communication Center via cell phone and reported the incident. Yosemite Park Rangers and Yosemite Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel were immediately dispatched to El Capitan where they began climbing the route to reach the climbing party.

Park rangers reached Kiernan around 4 p.m. and pronounced him deceased. A California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter, H-40, and the park’s helicopter, Helicopter 551, assisted in the incident by inserting park rangers and rescue equipment onto the wall and hoisting the victim to Yosemite Valley. Park rangers rappelled the route with Kiernan’s partner and the second climbing party.

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