Yosemite Middle Cathedral huge rockfall July 12.

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Messages 1 - 46 of total 46 in this topic
Robert

Trad climber
San Mateo, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 13, 2011 - 01:04pm PT
Did anyone else see this? The rockfall was just huge. Happened July 12 @ a 3:41 pm. Somewhere up high on the Northwest face of Middle Cathedral. A long way from where all the popular routes go. Heard an ambulance go by but I think no climber was hurt.
This pic was a few taken seconds after the rock fall.
This pic was a few taken seconds after the rock fall.
Credit: Robert
Photo taken about a minute after the rock fall. A slight breeze was bl...
Photo taken about a minute after the rock fall. A slight breeze was blowing and it's blown the dust up high more to the east/left side of the NW face.
Credit: Robert
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 13, 2011 - 01:12pm PT
Thanks. I wonder if Greg Stock, the park geologist, knows about the rockfall, or has other observations? He's usually on top of such things, so to speak.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
Jul 13, 2011 - 01:14pm PT
My friends who were on the Trip last week, reported they saw a major rockfall on Middle Cathedral then also, and that they thought it reached the road possibly. So its two weeks in a row major rockfall in the same place.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 13, 2011 - 01:51pm PT
Wow, Middle Catherdral is one of the top 4-5 rockfall champions in the park.

There's a lot of fine routes in the path of that rockfall. Most are run-out. If there weren't so run-out, people would have been on them on a hot summer day in mid-july cause it's a shady face for much of the day.

So the routes being dangerous may have saved people's lives on July 12th!

Peace

Karl
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Jul 13, 2011 - 02:02pm PT
Climbing Stoner's once, I was belaying pitch 7 or 8 and looked over right to see a most frightful sight about 60' away: Huge refrigerator plus-sized blocks piled high, happily hanging out and waiting for a release of their latent energy. The place is a bowling alley, but one that has some of the best multi-pitch cragging around.
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
Jul 13, 2011 - 02:14pm PT
It must have gone right over the N. Face route, no? That one's not runout.
WBraun

climber
Jul 13, 2011 - 02:16pm PT
Chopped some peoples fixed rope over there too ....
nutjob

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 13, 2011 - 03:01pm PT
At first I thought it went over North Butt of Middle, but it looks to the climber's right and wind blew the dust toward top of North Butt.

Scary stuff! I guess this is the melt-out time for the cold always shadowed face. There was a lot of snow/ice plastered up there earlier in the winter.
aspendougy

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jul 13, 2011 - 03:11pm PT
When water gets between spaces, then freezes and thaws,it loosens the connections between various slabs. I wonder if heavy winters like this last one correlate with more rockfall?
squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Jul 13, 2011 - 04:08pm PT
yes, it would, the snow and ice remained an extra month into the warmer weather.
mikeyschaefer

climber
Yosemite
Jul 14, 2011 - 03:41pm PT
choppy choppy
choppy choppy
Credit: mikeyschaefer

As Werner said, my fixed ropes for a new route I WAS working on were completely chopped. I've been up there nearly 20 days this spring, and thankfully i've needed a break from it in the last two weeks.
T H

Boulder climber
bouldering
Jul 14, 2011 - 04:06pm PT
Is your route still intact? How far out from completing it were you?
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Jul 14, 2011 - 04:19pm PT
Mike, I sympathize about your rope, but maybe Karma pulled you away for a rest day! Lucky you. A rope is a relatively small price to pay for not being there at the time.

What I find striking about your pic is the quality of the granite around it in the pic. I love granite crystals....so much friction in that pic.

I need to get out more this year...on granite.
mikeyschaefer

climber
Yosemite
Jul 14, 2011 - 05:20pm PT
I think the route is still intact. When I was up there a week ago, in between the rock fall events there was no damage done to my route at all. Just a couple tiny impact marks. The majority of the rockfall occurred on the right side of the north face apron. My route was a couple hundred feet right.

Sure hope this last rockfall was also out left a bit.

I only had another 4 or so more pitches (for a total of around 18 pitches) to go to the top of wall...
nutjob

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 14, 2011 - 05:25pm PT
Bluey, I look at that granite texture and imagine my baggy mythos sliding on it as my hands desperately grope for an edge I can't find! Maybe a fingernail will catch on something to hold me enough if the feet don't blow out?
elcap-pics

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
Jul 15, 2011 - 10:52am PT
Lucky boy Mikey!!! Don't go back until the fall.
regards Tom
Jobee

Social climber
El Portal Ca.
Jul 15, 2011 - 11:52am PT
Holy Cow! Glad no one was hurt.

Send that thing Mikey, and watch your back!


Scary shot of the rope.
The user formerly known as stzzo

Social climber
Jul 20, 2011 - 10:53am PT
When did the other recent one occur? I searched, but couldn't find anything on it.
ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
California
Jul 20, 2011 - 02:37pm PT

Mikey, Kait and I were thinking about you both times the rockfall occurred. Glad you werent at the base or on your route when it went down.

BTW, we didnt use any of the gift you gave us and handed it off to Lucho, hes going to offer it back if you need it. Youre a STUD!!!

Oh, we got both rock falls on video and will post them up when I get a chance.

Cheers!
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA
Jul 20, 2011 - 03:01pm PT
Whoa.

I was there in 2004 when a huge chunk dislodged and fell down around the CP of Frenzy. Around 10am on a Saturday morning. Massive rockfall yet for good luck there were no other parties at the base (a miricle considering the timing). The only living thing there was a dog that belonged to a party on the first or second pitch. The rockfall cut his leash and the dog was found later in Camp 4 scared and disoriented.
cleo

Social climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 20, 2011 - 03:05pm PT
ECP - yes, post videos, and send to Greg Stock. Especially if you got the beginning of the RF!

Roger Brown

climber
Oceano, California
Jul 20, 2011 - 05:01pm PT
The 1000' of rope west of Mikey's ropes are mine with ASCA signs on them. I just got back down to the Valley and plan to hike up to the base tomorrow and see how things look. I will access from the West and take the Camera. Where everything landed should say a lot.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 20, 2011 - 05:08pm PT
Wow! I was camping in Crane Flat last week, and spent parts of several of the days in the Valley, but fortunately missed that rockfall. I often boulder by traversing the NE and N faces, but didn't last week, thank God.

I doubt that it reached the road, since there were no effects of it that I saw. Scary, nonetheless.

John
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jul 20, 2011 - 05:37pm PT
gnar, glad no one got wrecked.
Sean Jones

climber
Jul 21, 2011 - 01:36am PT
That whole side of the valley is so scary. Seen way too much fall off of everything on that side in my time here. Done with that side..... haha going bouldering.
The Real Mad Dog

Gym climber
Napa, CA
Jul 21, 2011 - 09:32pm PT
I'm sure YNP geologist Greg Stock is on top of Yosemite Valley rockfall monitoring. I told him when he got his job that Yosemite is about rockfall, not glaciers. No other west-side canyon has as much rockfall, although the Sierra's cliff with the most is likely to be Lovers Leap. A heck of a lot of fresh talus from a relatively small wall.
mikeyschaefer

climber
Yosemite
Jul 21, 2011 - 10:07pm PT
Here's a pic from a couple days ago showing where I believe the rockfall came from.

Credit: mikeyschaefer


And here a link to the full resolution image (30mb) if you want to zoom in.

http://mikeylikesrocks.com/dropbox/Middle_Cathedral.jpg
QITNL

climber
Jul 21, 2011 - 10:22pm PT
Here's a shot of that part of the rock from 6/11/11:

Credit: QITNL

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jul 22, 2011 - 12:35am PT
don't tell me climbers don't contribute to science in the park!

geology preserved thru time with all our climbing shots!
gstock

climber
Yosemite Valley
Jul 26, 2011 - 09:51am PT
Thanks everyone for the photos and info, it's all very helpful. I'm glad those pushing routes on Middle Cathedral are ok. You all probably know this, but rockfall areas can be active for quite some time after an initial failure (weeks to months in some cases), so it might be wise to wait a bit before walking the base.

Climbers have indeed contributed substantially to rockfall research in Yosemite through eyewitness reports, photos, video, etc. The idea of monitoring deformation of a flake due to temperature changes originated with conversations I had with climbers who have directly observed this. Hopefully I'll have a chance to share the results of some of that research at the Facelift this year.

Greg Stock
Yosemite Park Geologist
(209) 379-1420
greg_stock@nps.gov

ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
California
Aug 26, 2011 - 09:42pm PT


Video of the two seperate rockfalls on Middle Cathedral:

http://vimeo.com/28221780
gstock

climber
Yosemite Valley
Aug 26, 2011 - 10:30pm PT
Great video, thanks for posting. Indeed, what is it with you guys and rockfall? Be sure to let me know when the two of you get on your next El Cap route - I'll have my rockfall kit ready.

Greg
Texplorer

Trad climber
Sacramento
Aug 27, 2011 - 12:47am PT
I took some video of the end of this rockfall.

http://www.vimeo.com/28224601
gstock

climber
Yosemite Valley
Aug 27, 2011 - 10:32am PT
Thanks for posting that Texplorer. Note that your video caption states June 12, but that rockfall occurred on July 12 - you might want to correct that.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Aug 27, 2011 - 10:26pm PT
Holy Cathedral Batman!
Two perspectives of the same rockfall. Amazing vids
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Aug 30, 2011 - 02:13am PT
that's a mighty close call there Mickey. Somebody loves you.
gstock

climber
Yosemite Valley
Sep 1, 2011 - 11:14am PT
FYI, there was another rockfall from the north face of Middle Cathedral this morning at about 7:20 am. It appears to have originated from the same location as the July 5 and July 12 events.

Greg
mikeyschaefer

climber
Yosemite
Sep 1, 2011 - 01:01pm PT
Hey Greg do you have any photos of the exact location? And idea about sized compared to the lsat couple rock falls?

I was really hoping things would chill out up there for the fall but it doesn't look like that is happening.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Sep 1, 2011 - 02:28pm PT
Greg
fall climbing season in the Valley is fast approaching.
Do you have an update of what parts of Middle Cathedral to avoid?
Perhaps just "stay away from the fresh rockfall zones"?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 1, 2011 - 02:52pm PT
Bob and I "surveyed the damage" on July 22-24.
Middle Cathedral North Apron base - July 22, 2011
Middle Cathedral North Apron base - July 22, 2011
Credit: Clint Cummins
Middle Cathedral North Apron base - July 22, 2011
Middle Cathedral North Apron base - July 22, 2011
Credit: Clint Cummins
Middle Cathedral North Apron base - July 24, 2011
Middle Cathedral North Apron base - July 24, 2011
Credit: Clint Cummins
As you can probably tell from "rain of rocks" and dust clouds in the videos, there's fresh gravel and various sized rocks along the base from Quicksilver to Mother Earth.
The few small bushes/oaks along the base were either easily buried or had their leaves stripped.
There's one fir that got broken off halfway up by a big impact.

I looked at the climbs. There was a little dust but no real damage to the slab, as the major impact hit a couple of blocky areas just 20' or so above the base. The bolt hangers all appeared to be intact except for one on Cat Dancing that was slightly bent (Fixe 4mm hanger).

I would personally advise waiting until at least next spring to climb in this zone, hoping the winter rain/snow will clear off any perched debris from up by the source. I think it would be OK currently to climb routes left of Quicksilver and routes right of Mother Earth.
Roger Brown

climber
Oceano, California
Sep 1, 2011 - 05:05pm PT
Wow,
I just pulled my fixed ropes from both sides of Mikey's first pitch rope last week. I tied off the core-shot on the first pitch rope so it can be jugged easier but that probably doesn't matter now.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Sep 1, 2011 - 06:41pm PT
Clint
you were out there in the zone without helmets? I'd have had a helmet and flak vest. Thanks for the report from the scene of the action.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 2, 2011 - 02:21am PT
My partner had a helmet in his pack, so we were not exactly without. He usually leads with one. I don't use one, except if it's required for teaching a class.
Helmets may be good if you hit your head during a leader fall. I've never done that.
If I think rocks are likely to fall on me while doing a climb, I'd choose to not do that climb. Example: that thread I created a couple of years ago: "Temple Crag: Too loose? (Accident list)"
And when belaying the leader, I try to locate the belay in a place which has some protection from rocks pulled off by the leader (either off to the side or under a roof).
One time my partner was leading and knocked off a big flake that was headed straight for me. Fortunately I had a long tether (rope to the anchor), so I just swung to one side and it missed me. A helmet would not have protected me.

On 7/24, I was actually hit in the head by a rock. It was my fault for fiddling around at the base when my partner was directly above. My head bled a bit. No big deal. A helmet would have avoided the bleeding, if I had one and was still wearing it on the ground. But I should not have been doing what I was doing.
gstock

climber
Yosemite Valley
Sep 7, 2011 - 12:47am PT
Here is additional information on the recent rockfalls from Middle Cathedral Rock.

First, all of the recent rockfalls appear to have originated from the same general area on the upper North Face of Middle Cathedral. I've marked the area on this photo with a circle:

Recent rockfall source area on Middle Cathedral Rock, marked by the ci...
Recent rockfall source area on Middle Cathedral Rock, marked by the circle.
Credit: gstock

The next two photos show that circled area zoomed in. The first photo was taken immediately after the rockfall on 5 July 2011, and the second after the rockfall on 1 September 2011. Note that there appear to be at least two distinct areas that failed (shown by the light colored scars in the second photo). I believe the upper one was the site of the 12 July failure, and the lower one with the prominent water stain through it was from the 1 September failure. I cannot tell yet whether these two were somehow related through stress redistribution, or whether they coincidentally occurred in such close proximity - I think the former case is the more likely scenario.

Middle Cathedral Rock rockfall source area after the 5 July 2011 rockf...
Middle Cathedral Rock rockfall source area after the 5 July 2011 rockfall.
Credit: gstock
Middle Cathedral Rock rockfall source area after the 1 September 2011 ...
Middle Cathedral Rock rockfall source area after the 1 September 2011 rockfall.
Credit: gstock

You can see from the photos that the failed slabs were relatively thin exfoliation sheets, probably only a few feet thick. These thin slabs broke up substantially during the fall, producing the dust clouds. I think this also explains why the impact zone at the base is not nearly as devastated as other larger rockfalls have been. Clint's photos above show the detail of this area really well, and this photo shows the base as seen from the North Buttress Route on 25 August 2011 (we did consider the potential rockfall risk before getting on this route, but decided to accept it given the route's position east of the fall path). Note that the area of fresh talus and damaged vegetation is relatively thin.

Base of Middle Cathedral as seen from the North Buttress Route.  Photo...
Base of Middle Cathedral as seen from the North Buttress Route. Photo by Josh Helling.
Credit: gstock

As a final note, it might be helpful to consider the Rhombus Wall rockfalls, which were similar in nature and occurred sporadically over a 1.2 year time period.

Hope this is helpful in deciding when/whether to venture up there again. Regardless, it couldn't hurt to wear a helmet.

Greg Stock
Park Geologist
(209) 379-1420
greg_stock@nps.gov
Anastasia

climber
hanging from an ice pick and missing my mama.
Sep 7, 2011 - 04:11am PT
Mickey,
Glad you are alright. July 12th is my birthday and no one is allowed to die on my birthday. I insist on that...
AFS
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 7, 2011 - 04:15pm PT
Thanks, Greg - great photos and analysis.
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