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Woman dies descending Half Dome in Yosemite

Gravity is one of the laws that I really respect.

And friction, so critical to motorcyclists, is necessary for hikers and climbers,  too…!

On Sunday, Hayley LaFlamme, 26, of nearby San Ramon, California had climbed with three other hikers to the peak of Half Dome, which rises 4,800 feet above Yosemite Valley. While descending the “cables area” of the dome (the highest 400 feet, where hikers hold onto metal cables secured by posts into the rock), she fell 600 feet to her death.

It rained on Sunday morning in Yosemite, and the slopes were wet, according to Kari Cobb, park spokesperson. One of LaFlamme’s companions called 911 at about noon. Park rangers pronounced LaFlamme dead when they found her body. Yosemite’s Web site instructs hikers NOT to climb the cables area when the rock surface is wet. Most accidents on the cables happen when the surface becomes wet.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the visitor to assess the safety conditions on any trail in the park and to make the appropriate choices to make them safe,” Cobb said.

The cables allow hikers to climb Half Dome without rock-climbing equipment. The entire hike is a 14-16-mile trip. LaFlamme had a permit to hike to the summit, one of 400 permits issued daily during the months (mid-May to mid-October) that hikers are allowed to ascend the peak. Since 2006, four people have died on Half Dome. The latest of these was Manoj Kumar, also from San Ramon, who fell after slipping on wet granite in June of 2009.

Eleven days earlier, three Yosemite visitors climbed over a guardrail and are presumed dead after being swept over Vernal Fall.

-Bill at

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