An Arizona woman slipped and fell 500 feet down the slope of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park on Thursday, during the final portion of the climb that involves holding on to a cable.
The accident occurred around 11:55 a.m. Thursday as the woman was hiking up the smooth final 400 feet of the rock formation to the top of the "dome," as NBC News reports. The area features two cables, one for those headed up to the top and one for those coming down, allowing hikers to scale the final portion without extra climbing equipment. But, as the Yosemite website says, "there is nothing you can do to guarantee your safety."
The woman has been identified as 29-year-old Danielle Burnett of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, as the Chronicle reports, and a park spokesperson says, "She fell over 500 feet down steep, rocky terrain and was deceased when park rangers arrived on the scene."
13 people have died scaling Half Dome since the national park was established, and there have been around 300 accidents there, as the Chronicle notes. And many of those accidents have involved the smooth granite portion near the top of the cliff edge where Thursday's accident occurred.
According to the Sacramento Bee, nine deaths have occurred at the cable area of the hike since they were first installed in 1919. The most recent death occurred in 2018 when a man fell in the same area while hiking during a May thunderstorm.
The entire hike to the top of Half Dome and back takes 10 to 12 hours, so hikers often set out early in the morning. Following a spate of accidents in the last decade, park officials began issuing permits to take the hike and limiting the number of people who can do it each day. Only 50 permits are issued to go to the summit, and 300 permits are issued each day to go on the Half Dome Trail — about 225 for day hikers and 75 for backpackers.
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0