YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CBS SF & AP) — In a week marred by El Capitan rock slides and the death of a climber, Yosemite National Park rescue crews rushed to aid another climber Friday who fell from the Higher Cathedral Spire.
Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman confirmed a climber had fallen 30 feet Friday afternoon.
A helicopter crew assisted the injured female climber who was flown to a local hospital with moderate injuries.
Meanwhile, a Florida man was recovering after being struck by debris from a El Capitan rock slide Thursday as he was driving in the park in an SUV full of relatives.
Jim Evans, of Naples, Florida, suffered a head injury when a second massive rock fall in as many days sent debris slamming through the sunroof of his SUV, striking him in the head.
Television images show Evans conscious and his wife holding a jacket around his head. Fresno television station KSEE reported that Evans was airlifted to a hospital in Modesto and was expected to survive.
Evans’ wife, Rachel Evans, said she and her husband and two other relatives had ended a three-day visit to Yosemite and were leaving Thursday when the rock slide happened.
“We didn’t know what had happened, but it shattered (the glass) and the dust just poured in,” Rachel Evans said. “We were trying to outrun it; it was like ‘Go! Let’s go!’ and at the same time my husband reached up and he was like ‘oh, my head, my head’ because it was bleeding profusely and hurting.”
Fortunately, no one else in the car was injured.
Park officials closed one of the exit routes from the park after Evans was struck.
READ RELATED STORIES:
The slide came a day after a giant slab of granite plunged from the same formation, killing a British man on a hiking and climbing visit and injuring his wife.
The massive new hunk of granite broke off Thursday at the park’s mountaineering mecca of El Capitan, injuring Evans and sending out huge plumes of white dust.
“There was so much smoke and debris,” said climber Ryan Sheridan, who had just reached the top of El Capitan when the rock let loose below him. “It filled the entire valley with smoke.”
Sheridan spoke to The Associated Press by cellphone from the mountain.
“It was in the same location of the previous rock fall,” Sheridan said. “A larger rock fall let loose, easily three times the size.”
The man killed Wednesday was identified as Andrew Foster, 32, of Wales. The park didn’t identify his wife but said she remained hospitalized.
Yosemite geologist Greg Stock said the break was probably caused by the expansion and contraction of the monolith’s granite as it heats up during the summer and gets cold and more brittle in the winter.
The park indicated that seven rock falls actually occurred during a four-hour period Wednesday on the southeast face of El Capitan.
Rocks at the world-renowned park’s climbing routes break loose and crash down about 80 times a year. The elite climbers who flock to the park using ropes and their fingertips to defy death as they scale sheer cliff faces know the risk but also know it’s rare to get hit and killed by the rocks.
“It’s a lot like a lightning strike,” said Alex Honnold, who made history June 3 for being the first to climb El Capitan alone and without ropes. “Sometimes geology just happens.”
The last time a climber was killed by a rock falling at Yosemite was in 2013, when a Montana climber fell after a rock dislodged and sliced his climbing rope.
It was preceded by a 1999 rock fall that crushed a climber from Colorado. Park officials say rock falls overall have killed 16 people since 1857 and injured more than 100.
The rock falls came during the peak of the climbing season for El Capitan, with climbers from around the world trying their skill against the sheer cliff faces. At least 30 climbers were on the formation when a section gave way Wednesday.
Foster and his wife were not on the cliff, however. They were hiking at the bottom of El Capitan far from trails used by most Yosemite visitors in preparation for an ascent when the chunk of granite about 12 stories tall broke free and plunged, Gediman said.
The slab was about 130 feet (40 meters) tall and 65 feet (19 meters) wide and fell from the popular “Waterfall Route” on the East Buttress of El Capitan, Gediman said.
Officials had no immediate estimate for how much the big rock weighed. But Gediman said all of the rock falls combined on Wednesday weighed 1,300 tons (1,100 metric tons).
TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.