A hiker in Yosemite fell to his death after reaching the top of Half Dome. National Park Officials report that Manoj Kumar, a 40 year old man from San Ramon, California was descending the cable route on Half Dome when the accident occurred at about 3:40 Saturday.
Thousands of people climb to the top of Half Dome every summer using the trail known as the cables. On this route, two steel cables are strung from the top of the peak to the end of the foot path on the east shoulder of Half Dome. Hikers grab the cables to slowly make their way up and down the steep, smooth curve of the granite dome.
Much like the past month, Saturday was cloudy with scattered showers. Investigators have not yet determined for certain if the man slipped on wet rock, or the fall was caused by something else; but park officials report that the recent weather has led to treacherous conditions and slippery granite.
The park helicopter transported two Park Rangers to the scene of the fatality. Upon arrival Park Rangers accessed the victim and determined he was deceased from severe system trauma, according to park officials.
While the Rangers responded to the fatality, other people were trapped on the summit in a hail storm and couldnt descend the cables. Park officials say that an additional team of five Park Rangers were flown to Half Dome to evacuate 41 cold and wet visitors from the summit and cables who had been stuck out in the elements for nearly two hours. All were off the summit by 8:15 Saturday night.
This is the first fatality of the season on the cables, though park officials report that this weather pattern has been in place for approximately one month in the park and these conditions lead to a similar, but not fatal, search and rescue operation in the park last week.
Considering the thousands of hikers who climb the cables each summer, fatalities on the route are relatively rare. Park Officials say that the last hiker who died on the Half Dome cables slipped to his death in June of 2007.