A hiker in Yosemite National Park fell 600-feet to her death on Sunday while descending from Half-Dome in the rain. The death was just the latest in a particularly bad year in the National Park, which has already seen 13 other deaths in 2011.
26-year old Haley LaFlamme, along with three of her friends, were making their way down from the summit while a thunderstorm raged around them. The group was on the famous Half Dome cables, which are put in place on the steeper sections of the trail to aid with the climb, when LaFlamme slipped and fell. Rangers were immediately called for assistance, but she died almost instantly.
With 14 deaths in Yosemite already this year, 2011 is on pace to be one of the worst years in the history of the Park. In the five previous years, stretching from 2006-2010, Yosemite had 38 deaths total, and with 4 million visitors per year, the park is amongst the most visited in the entire U.S. system.
Safety experts are blaming some of the fatalities this year on the unusually heavy snowfalls this past winter. Those snows lingered later into the year, and have created heavy run-offs that continue even now. Rivers and streams remain swollen, and those conditions have caught many unaware, such as the three people who were swept over Vernal Falls a couple of weeks back. Hopefully this is not a trend that will continue, and visitors to Yosemite will take a bit more caution in the days ahead.
My condolences to Haley’s friends and family.
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