Huge Rockfall - West Face of El Cap


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Llewelyn Moss

Big Wall climber
LZ Loon
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 17, 2017 - 08:56am PT
All –
Beware. On 9/16/17 we intended to climb the West Face of El Cap and discovered that the area has been completely obliterated by rockfall. The gully has been wiped out completely. The climber’s bivy has filled in with 2’ of fresh talus. It is unrecognizable. There are huge craters in the ground and the surrounding walls in the gully have been hit hard by huge rock. Many of the trees in the gully have simply disappeared. White dust covers everything. This was huge.

After climbing a very dusty, rock-impacted first pitch of the West Face (and getting a bird’s eye view of the destruction) we made a decision to get out of there. Rockfall barely missed the West Face P1 bolt anchor. We climbed KP Pinnacle and then walked over to Ribbon Falls where we were able to get a better vantage point of the source area.

It appears that a massive section of wall immediately above the end of the West Face’s Thanksgiving Ledge Traverse has fallen off. There is a huge white impact scar right on Thanksgiving, on the part of the easy traverse where there may not be much gear. The source area is very high on the wall. Rockfall fanned far up the gully, past Beyer’s route, all the way down to Mirage. We even saw evidence of the rockfall on the west side of KP Pinnacle!! Yowza. The rock fall scar and path of destruction are visible without binoculars from Ribbon Falls.

Please be careful!!!

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Sep 17, 2017 - 09:01am PT

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Sep 17, 2017 - 09:14am PT
Damn. Makes me think of rolling dice.

Social climber
Sep 17, 2017 - 09:19am PT
Yikes! Hope no one was hurt.

I hope Greg Stock sees this and chimes in after he has a look see.

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Sep 17, 2017 - 11:20am PT
Place is falling apart . . . glad no one was in the way.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 17, 2017 - 12:17pm PT
Thanks for such a complete report.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Sep 17, 2017 - 03:17pm PT
Just wear your magic helmet, you will be fine.

Oakland, CA
Sep 17, 2017 - 06:05pm PT
Thanks for the report, get any pics of either the base area or the fresh scar area above Thanksgiving?

Must have been creepy making your way up the gulley through the rubble, good call on bailing!

Gym climber
Great White North
Sep 17, 2017 - 06:22pm PT
Any news about a recent rockfall on Waterfall route?
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Sep 17, 2017 - 08:06pm PT
Who says geologic time is slow?
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Sep 17, 2017 - 08:14pm PT
Damn it, people! I've only done two Grade VI's--The NWF of Half Dome and the West Face of El Cap, and you had to go and ruin both of them. Knock it off. Actually, I spent the night on that pitch 11 ledge that fell of HD. Freakin' spooky. As with this rock fall, it's amazing that no one was at the base. Climbers be having some luck with these two rock falls.


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 17, 2017 - 08:48pm PT
BAD, how do you deal with such guilt?

Sep 17, 2017 - 09:55pm PT
Sh!t is supposed to fall off.

It means it is still alive.

If it was dead it would be Disney Land ......

Social climber
Sep 17, 2017 - 10:04pm PT
hey there, say... Llewelyn Moss...

thank you for the warning, for all the folks here...

Mountain climber
13,000 feet
Sep 18, 2017 - 12:16am PT
Mr. Braun says it well.


for the things to be exfoliation domes....

Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Sep 18, 2017 - 06:55am PT
Hah, Jim, good point, although certainly many hundreds have done the climbs since I did them. Still, I can now say, "Well, when I did that climb, it was much different, far more aesthetic, better in every way. Too bad about that rockfall that changed it forever...." Gotta work on my old guy, snide commentary. The Smoking Duck has turned it into an art form.


Trad climber
Northern California
Sep 18, 2017 - 10:30am PT
That's a huge bummer. I'd done the first 2/3 of the route only to get blasted off by a storm. Never got a chance to go back...

Any photos of the base area?

Bay Area, CA
Sep 18, 2017 - 12:50pm PT
Is there any more info on this? I can't find anything about anywhere online.

VERY glad to hear no one was hurt, let alone killed!
Crazy Bat

Sport climber
Birmingham, AL & Seweanee, TN
Sep 19, 2017 - 06:48am PT
I guess we will have to wait for a post about pass the petons pete getting stuck on the wall again to find out more about this rockfall.

Ice climber
Sep 19, 2017 - 08:19am PT
Nobody on this forum climbs anymore
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