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Climber Killed In Fall On El Capitan

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avatar Climbing fatality on El Capitan
May 20, 2013 06:18PM
Apparently falling rock severed his rope and he fell down more than 200 ft before he was held by his trailing rope. I wonder if he was wearing a climbing helmet.

Climber Dies on El Capitan
Fatal rockfall to blame
Re: Climbing fatality on El Capitan
May 21, 2013 08:22AM
Here is more info from the elcapreport.com written by Tom Evans...

In other news: I talked with Mark, the surviving climber from the accident yesterday, this morning and he told me about the events that befell them. Mason was leading around the big, blocky overhang, just above the bivy, at the start of the final 700ft dihedral. He was about 20ft above the belay, when a piece of gear he placed (a camming unit) caused a large flake to fall upon him, as the gear pulled out of the rock. He fell backwards and outwards, past Mark. As he fell, the flake severed his climbing rope, a couple of feet from his tie-in to his seat harness.
With his climbing rope cut, he continued falling a distance of about 230ft, until the haul and tag ropes, (ropes not used to climb on, but to haul bags and gear) came tight. These other ropes are “Static Lines”, which do not stretch to absorb a falling climbers energy, and thus produce a bone breaking force on the climber, if they are his only rope when falling. They are never, intentionally, used for actual climbing, as they are not made for that purpose, but hauling bags instead.
His static lines were attached to a chest harness, also not intended to hold a falling climber alone, but used in conjunction with a seat harness. When the impact came onto his chest, instead of his hips, he was killed instantly. Since static ropes don’t stretch, they are ideal for pulling up bags, as the energy a climber uses on the rope when hauling bags, will not be lost due to stretching of the rope.
However, many climbers don’t use static ropes to haul bags, even though they are more energy efficient. It is just with this kind of accident in mind, that climbers will use a dynamic rope (one made to stretch and absorb a falling climber’s energy) to haul bags with, just in case the climbing rope gets cut. Then, they have a chance to be saved by the haul line, if it is tied into their harness. Whether or not Mason would have been saved by having a dynamic hauling line is uncertain…but with a static line, he never had a chance.
As you know, I have done many rescue reports, including pictures and comprehensive write ups. However, these rescues were not fatal ones and ultimately had good outcomes. I don’t feel it is appropriate for me to do such a report this time, even though there was much heroic work done by the YOSAR team, especially the men, Jack and Ed, who were lowered, on ropes, to get to the victims. I did take many shots of the events and have given them to the NPS to use in analyzing their operations, and making future recommendations to improve climber safety.
Those of you, who know me, know how this terrible accident has impacted me. I am dealing with it by keeping busy and doing positive things. My heartfelt condolences go out to all of Mason’s friends and family. He was a fine man and a very experienced climber, who I enjoyed shooting on many of his ElCap climbs. He will be missed by all who had any contact with him.
Re: Climbing fatality on El Capitan
May 21, 2013 08:54AM
Sorry to hear about the accident and my sincere condolences to Mason's family and friends. Thanks for sharing the incident report.
avatar Re: Climbing fatality on El Capitan
May 21, 2013 09:04AM
Terrible news.......... so sorry to hear it. My condolences to those who knew him.
avatar Climber Killed In Fall On El Capitan
May 21, 2013 12:23PM
Yosemite National Park (CA)
Climber Killed In Fall On El Capitan

Mason Robison, a 38-year-old climber from Montana, fell about 230 feet while climbing the Muir Wall on El Capitan on the morning of Sunday, May 19th. He was about 2,300 feet up the route when he dislodged a large rock that severed his lead rope and caused him to fall 230 feet onto his haul line, which was being used to bring the party's equipment up the route. Robison’s climbing partner was unable to immediately contact emergency services due to poor cell phone reception and began to yell for help. Several other climbers, along with a Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) volunteer, reported witnessing the rockfall in the area of Robison and his partner and notified the Yosemite Emergency Communication Center. Rangers responded to El Capitan Meadow for observation and heard faint cries for help up on the wall, but had difficulty pinpointing the location of the spot where the calls were coming from. Robison’s partner continued to try to call for help via his cell phone and was eventually able to contact dispatch. Rangers were then able locate the climbing party through a spotting scope and determined that Robison was hanging motionless from the end of his rope. The park helicopter flew a technical rescue team to the summit of El Capitan around 12:30 p.m. Team members began rigging for a technical lowering of almost 800 feet to Robison’s location. Rangers Jack Hoeflich and Ed Visnovske were lowered down the cliff face; they were able to reach him shortly thereafter and pronounced him dead upon arrival. They raised Robison and his partner to the top of El Capitan and then flew both to the valley floor. Scott Jacobs was IC for the incident.
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