Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Columbia Falls Climber Dies in Fall on Yosemite’s El Capitan

NPS Digest is reporting this morning that Mason Robison, a 38-year-old climber from Columbia Falls, Montana, fell to his death while climbing the Muir Wall on El Capitan this past Sunday morning.

Robison was roughly 2,300 feet above the monolith’s base in Yosemite National Park 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, who wasn't hurt, continued to try to call for help via his cell phone, and was eventually able to contact dispatch.

Rangers were then able to 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.

Tragically, Robison’s older brother, Mark, died while climbing Rainbow Peak in Glacier National Park in 1998.

Hiking in Glacier.com

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