It was a close call for a group of mountain climbers after another day of rock falls in Yosemite National Park.
Two climbers a short distance away from the rock fall caught it all on a cell phone camera from above. “Absolutely unbelievable we couldn’t see it, we were on the summit, we are all safe, thanks be to god,” said. Both breathing a sigh of relief from a safe distance thousands of feet above the valley floor.
The climber behind the camera narrated what they could see from their perspective. The man described a thick plume of dust that consumed everything below. “Right into the Merced River, you can’t even see Half Dome,” he said. Through the dust, spectators like Rob Ericson, watched as climbers above the rock fall made their way out.
“We’re just all watching the climbers and hoping they’re okay,” said Ericson. He witnessed the massive chunk of rock fall from the rock face. “They were safe from it but they were certainly close enough to be shaken,” Ericson. “That rock fall was a full order of magnitude bigger than the last rock fall,” said the climber behind the cell phone.
For Michelle Waller, a rock climber at Metal Mark in Fresno, watching video is as close as she wants to be to a situation like that. “Oh man, I wouldn’t know what to do,” said Waller. “If there’s a vibration here, it’s probably spider webbing its way through the rock. That is a crazy concept to think about,” she said.
Waller said all the tools at a climber’s disposal are useless in a situation like the one the climber’s faced. She said being mentally prepared is your best bet. “How am I going to keep myself from being completely injured or even dying. So stuff like that.” “Is it going to happen to me up here. That’s the first thing I would think of,” said Stacey Byers, an avid climber.
The cellphone video hits close to home for Byers. Her son Cody died nearly 3 years ago in a climbing accident in Yosemite. Although her loss is painful, she said there is certainly beauty in the sport. She appreciates the fact that climbers put their lives in mother nature’s hands. “You do everything you can possibly do and if anything happens it’s out of your control,” said Byers. Byers offered advice to the climbers in the video.
“Don’t let it distract you from seeing mother nature, especially Yosemite. It’s the most beautiful place ever,” said Byers. Some climbers we spoke to echoed her sentiments and said the threat of rock falls wouldn’t stop them from climbing.