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Yosemite Hiker Dies Falling Off Half Dome, First Such Death In 2018

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A hiker fell to his death after slipping on the climbing cables in Half Dome, Yosemite National Park. This picture shows view of the Half Dome monolith from Glacier Point at the Yosemite National Park in California, June 4, 2015. Photo: Getty Images/ MARK RALSTON

By Pritha Paul, International Business Times

A hiker fell to his death after slipping on the climbing cables in Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, on Monday.

Around 4:30 p.m. local time (7:30 p.m. EDT), the unidentified man was “hiking with another person during thunder storm activity” when he lost his balance and fell to his death, the National Park Services said in a news release.

“The hiker did not survive the fall and Yosemite National Park Rangers recovered his body at approximately 1:00 p.m. [local time, 4 p.m. EDT] today [Tuesday],” the press release said. The rangers were notified of the incident and they arrived at the scene to assist the second hiker. It is not known whether the second hiker was injured.

This is the first death this year in the Yosemite National Park and the second death on the Half Dome since 2011.

No other details about the incident have been released as the cause of the accident undergoes investigation. The name of the victim has been withheld till his next of kin is notified by the officials.

The Half Dome stands at 5,000 feet above California's Yosemite Valley and the cables are supposed to take the hikers the last 400 feet to the summit.

Since thousands of people visit the national park, it is very difficult to estimate exactly how many people have died since the park was established in 1890. An Outside Online article, dedicated to analyzing the deadliest national parks, states that between January 2006 to September 2016, 150 people died in Yosemite National Park.

The official website of the Park Services does not provide an updated aggregated records on the official number of fatalities; hence it is very difficult to judge exactly how many deaths have occurred in Yosemite. Michael Ghiglieri and Charles "Butch" Farabee even co-wrote a 608-page book called “Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite” in 2007, on the different instances of deaths in the park, dating back to the time it first opened.

"The amount of research involved was unbelievably tedious," Ghiglieri, an ecologist and professional wilderness guide, told the Union Democrat. "I wanted to know every possible detail because that makes for better stories."

The types of deaths included climbing accidents, river drownings, suicides, lightning strikes, free-fall BASE jumpers whose parachutes malfunctioned, hikers who mysteriously disappeared, car crashes, homicides and more.

Last year, till March, 15 people had died due to natural causes like drowning, and climbing-related accidents in Yosemite.

Andrew Foster, 32, from Wales, was crushed to death in September 2017 when a 1,000-tonne slab of granite broke off from the El Capitan and fell on the climber and his wife, with whom he was enjoying a three-week long adventure trip in the California park. His wife was airlifted to a hospital with critical injuries.

Lucy Foster, the climber’s wife, who survived the fall, later told immediate relatives that her husband died trying to protect her.

"She said 'Andrew saved my life. He dived on top of me as soon as he could see what was going to happen. He saved my life,’” Gillian Stephens, Andrew Foster’s aunt, told the Times. “They were so devoted to each other. It really was a love story.”

In June, last year, an unidentified 66-year-old man fell to death off a bridge across Yosemite National Park’s Wapama Falls.

"We do not know what caused him to slip and fall," Yosemite spokesperson Ranger Jamie Richards said Monday, according to the SFGate.

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