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Author Topic: El Capitan rock slides  (Read 809 times)

Tom

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El Capitan rock slides
« on: September 28, 2017, 07:17:05 PM »
I've often wondered about the long-term effects of rock climbers' repeated metal inserts into rock formations, and I have no idea if this has anything to do with this subject ...

There have been tragic large rock slides at El Capitan in Yosemite the last couple of days - see here.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 07:36:31 PM by Tom »
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SargeW

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 07:45:04 PM »
I have wondered the same thing Tom. But wear and tear is wear and tear. We will probably never know for sure.
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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 08:27:09 PM »
I thought that driving pitons into rocks was a thing of the distant past.  I saw the climbing gear that people were using at El Capitan when I visited this year and it looked more like a cam device that was wedged in strategic crevices.
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TonyDtorch

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 10:07:06 PM »
Did you see this guy that free climbs El Cap in less that 4 hours...no more pitons or ropes are necessary.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/features/athletes/alex-honnold/most-dangerous-free-solo-climb-yosemite-national-park-el-capitan/

And there was another big rock slide today...no one was hurt but it was a big chunk of rock that fell.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 10:11:57 PM by TonyDtorch »

SeilerBird

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2017, 03:18:02 AM »
Rock slides are a way of life in the Sierra Nevadas. They happen on a daily basis. The rock climbers have nothing to do with it. The reason Yosemite looks so spectacular is because of all the rock slides. Look at the face of El Capitan or Half Dome. Evidence of rock slides all over the faces. I have had rangers tell me that they actually have visitors who seriously ask them when and where the next rock slide will occur, they don't want to miss it.
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Tom

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2017, 04:15:10 AM »
And all these years I thought that Yosemite rock faces were formed and polished by glaciers  ???
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SeilerBird

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2017, 04:32:53 AM »
And all these years I thought that Yosemite rock faces were formed and polished by glaciers  ???
The valley was formed by glaciers, the rock faces were the result of rock slides and rain. Glaciers would leave horizontal scrape marks, rock slides leave vertical scrape marks and debris fields at the base of the cliff.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2017, 04:35:52 AM by SeilerBird »
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anniemae

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2017, 08:54:43 AM »
SeilerBird is correct. Weather is the greatest contributor to the separation of large segments of rock.  Granite will decompose over time.  We work here in Yosemite and the NPS geologist will determine if El Cap. will close for a short time or not.  Credit should be given to our Search and Rescue and LEO's for their fast response and expertise.   This is the Wilderness.  Not Disneyland.

SeilerBird

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2017, 09:13:14 AM »
Moisture gets into the crevices of rocks during a daytime rainstorm and then freezes at night causing the rock to split due to the expansion of the ice.
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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2017, 09:40:59 AM »
This is not specifically related to climbing but were were walking/hiking through Watkins Glen this summer (https://parks.ny.gov/parks/142/) and there was a rock slide about 15 minutes ahead of us. A couple of people were injured, the trail was closed and we were re-routed to an alternate exit. Ironically, the alternate exit was probably more dangerous - an old access road that was fairly steep, badly washed out, and not maintained, followed by a quarter mile walk along a narrow highway.
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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2017, 09:56:21 AM »
Was there on Tuesday. The rangers on news said it was form erosion and freezing Sure is beautiful here.
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Tom

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2017, 10:07:47 AM »
Quote from: anniemae
Credit should be given to our Search and Rescue and LEO's for their fast response and expertise.   This is the Wilderness.

There's a good explanation and warning on their web site.
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skeeter_ca

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2017, 11:39:24 AM »
I'm camping at Yosemite Lakes next weekend. Hope to see the sites alittle. Sure is a beautiful place and sometimes dangerous.

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2017, 02:24:43 PM »
Where I live in Ontario, we live on the bases of mountains that existed millions of years ago. There is no mountains now, yet the rock structures that are here can only be formed by the existence of mountains. They say they were as high as the Himalayas. Mother nature is constantly making new mountains. She is also constantly tearing down the existing ones. Hard to defy gravity and time.

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2017, 02:39:11 PM »
I've been to the top of El Capitan and Half Dome. Back in my backpacking days we packed in from highway 120 and spent the night at the designated camping spot near the edge of El Capitan.

Half Dome we did the same thing, there is a base camp for it about a mile before you climb the back of it..

Both times there were climbers who came up the faces just getting to the top. Those guys are tough!

Almost every year there are people killed and injured in Yosemite. Things happen.
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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2017, 06:46:33 PM »
I really liked anniemae's comment "This is the wilderness not Disneyland."  Having grown up playing above the timberline among the granite boulders in the High Sierras above Huntington Lake, we were well aware as children that we were in the wilderness and needed to be careful and observant.  I treasure that childhood experience and feel it contributed to my adult abilities to cope with impending (or actual) disasters.

JudyJB

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2017, 01:16:20 AM »
The sad thing is that the one man who was killed and his wife who was injured were not even rock climbing. They were hiking along the base of the rock faces.  And in the last slide, one guy was driving in his car and got hit by a rock that came through his open sun roof! 

Guess the lesson is to stay away from the rock faces.  I have no idea where you could drive that close, but I will be there in about 10 days so am looking forward to seeing the place.  Last time I went, got snowed out and had to leave!  Weather is supposed to be better this month.
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SeilerBird

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2017, 05:18:02 AM »
There is nothing dangerous about hiking around Yosemite. Yes occasionally there is an accident and someone gets killed but the real danger is driving to the park on public highways. A lot more people die on the way to Yosemite than actually die in Yosemite accidents. There is no place on earth that is safe from accidents including your own bed and shower. Accidents can happen anywhere but when you speed down the highway at 70 mph you definitely increase your chances to a lot higher than when you are hiking around a National Park. People worry about the bears in Yosemite yet no one has ever been killed by a bear there ever. However almost once a day someone gets bitten by a squirrel in Yosemite, sometimes fatally yet no one worries about the squirrels, they worry about the bears. ::)
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TonyDtorch

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2017, 10:35:08 AM »
That explains why Yosemite park was looking for fulltime Campground hosts that had experience in filling out accident reports.

It would still be wonderful to be able to live there.

garyb1st

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2017, 10:37:45 AM »
Moisture gets into the crevices of rocks during a daytime rainstorm and then freezes at night causing the rock to split due to the expansion of the ice.

And if you recall, Northern California had a bit of moisture this past winter.   
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aguablanco

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2017, 02:20:31 PM »
There is very little sport climbing gear(read bolts) in any national park, it is generally not allowed. Climbers use removable protection almost exclusively. The previous post regarding erosuin is absolutely on the mark. That's how the Grand Canyon was formed.
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JoelP

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2017, 08:22:38 PM »
Did you see this guy that free climbs El Cap in less that 4 hours...no more pitons or ropes are necessary.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/features/athletes/alex-honnold/most-dangerous-free-solo-climb-yosemite-national-park-el-capitan/

And there was another big rock slide today...no one was hurt but it was a big chunk of rock that fell.

Our last trip to El Capitan my wife and I saw one young man preparing to free climb, i.e. without any ropes.  My wife asked him if his mother knew he did this.  He replied that they mutually decided several years ago to not talk about it.  He explained that one doesn't just go out and start free climbing; it takes year of preparation to be able to do this. He said that the advantage is that a climb that might have taken 2 days can take a matter of hours as a free climber.  In my opinion they are are all nuts.
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Armin

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2017, 12:13:32 PM »
There is very little sport climbing gear(read bolts) in any national park, it is generally not allowed. Climbers use removable protection almost exclusively.

Not sure about all national parks, but there's no shortage of bolts in Yosemite. Check out some of these route descriptions:

https://web.stanford.edu/~clint/yos/longhf.htm

aguablanco

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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2017, 12:22:34 AM »
Not sure about all national parks, but there's no shortage of bolts in Yosemite. Check out some of these route descriptions:

https://web.stanford.edu/~clint/yos/longhf.htm

I guess I confused Yosemite's policy with Grand Canyon's. However, all bolts in Yosemite must be hand drilled, no power equipment allowed. That certainly limits their placement.
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Re: El Capitan rock slides
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2017, 07:43:03 AM »
That explains why Yosemite park was looking for fulltime Campground hosts that had experience in filling out accident reports.

It would still be wonderful to be able to live there.

A couple of years ago, I did a phone interview to be a host at Yosemite.  The supervisor seemed more interested in how I was at handling drunks after quiet hours than if I minded cleaning toilets or campsites.  Told her I'd raised 5 boys(2 of whom work and live at Yosemite).  This seemed to be qualification enough for her, but the question was a deal-breaker for me.  Too bad, as I would have liked to have spent the season in the same park as my boys.
Ended up instead at the Grand Canyon north rim.  In 2 seasons, I've had to ask exactly one group to quiet down at 10pm.
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