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Straight outta Squampton
Apr 20, 2015 - 07:26am PT
One news source said that there were at least two parties on Angel's Crest. The lowest party actually got bombarded with debris, but escaped any serious harm and completed the route.

Emergency services' biggest concern was that there may have been parties at the base of Angel's Crest or in the forest approaching the route. By the looks of the destruction at the base, it would have been extremely unlikely to escape harm at any of the three starts to the route. It was fortunate that the release took place close to noon and not earlier when parties are often stacked at the base.

We watched the whole thing from the bluffs and it was terrifying. Everyone's nerves were quite jittery for a while afterwards.

I initially thought that the top pitch of The Calling / Northern Lights had fallen off, but it looks as if the rockfall was just to the right of that area. The second to last pitch was pummeled however. Most of the Chilcoot Pass variation finish to The Calling is completely gone, as is the walk-off ledge from the top of both routes!


Yosemite Valley
Apr 20, 2015 - 07:40am PT

Chris Small reports this on facebook: "I had a friend who was bouldering in the forest below when it happened. She crouched behind a boulder and watched and heard the rock shrapnel whiz all around her. She was fairly ashen faced describing it."

That is exactly the right thing to do, by the way. Many people in Yosemite have survived rockfalls even close to the impact area by sheltering behind large boulders. Only in the rarest cases - basically on flat ground at the edge of the talus slope - would you have any hope of outrunning the oncoming debris.
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
Apr 20, 2015 - 07:53am PT
Scary. Glad to hear that it seems like everyone is alright.

Gym climber
Being In Sierra Happy Of Place
Apr 20, 2015 - 08:12am PT
A few more pictures here:


I deleted my thread - thanks for the heads-up.

Glad that everyone seems to be alive and uninjured.

Big Wall climber
Apr 20, 2015 - 08:20am PT
damn rock fall!

Trad climber
Sun Coast B.C.
Apr 20, 2015 - 08:40am PT
I heard, and came straight here.

Was out re-habbing a climbers trail that was wiped out by falling rock!

Amazing no-one hurt.

Creeps me out man.

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Apr 20, 2015 - 08:45am PT
Ho Man that's a lotta rock!

Glad to see no reports of injury. Hope it stays this way.

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Apr 20, 2015 - 08:58am PT
I was climbing in the Bluffs at Tunnel Rock. We heard two rock falls before the big one. The first one, around 11:20 we thought might be new routers trundling, and we talked about what a dumbass move it was to trundle on a sunny weekend. The second one came around 11:40 and was the same size of sound as the first and we looked at each other and wondered if it really was trundling or not. Then the big one dropped and we knew it wasn't trundling.

We hiked up to the top of the Bluffs and Barley's obscure Nighthawk Moss crag (great routes there btw, Robin showed up while we were climbing, and claimed we were doing second ascents) and got a good view of the fresh scar.

In addition to the big dirty scar at the top of Chilkoot Passage that's claimed most of the attention, there is also a second, paler scar just down and to the right, in the vicinity of the second-last pitch of Yukon Gold and The Temptation of St Anthony and in the vicinity of the original Zodiac Wall. Anyway you can see fresh new rock scars on the slab below the arching corner that these routes take.

I believe one of the earlier rockfalls was the one that made this scar, and that this may have removed some of the support for the block that made the larger scar.

Red is the main scar on Chilkoot Pass. Dirty debris ran down the 12a a...
Red is the main scar on Chilkoot Pass. Dirty debris ran down the 12a and 10b pitches of the Calling (red arrow).
Orange is the smaller fresh scar to the right. Orange arrow points to fresh white scars where this debris hit the slab below.

Credit: Drew Brayshaw

EDIT: got a better view in a pic from another angle of the Yukon Gold area. The WPoS pillar is still there, but the 11a pitch above (the route's last pitch) looks to have substantially altered.
Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
Apr 20, 2015 - 09:50am PT

(Morning video.)

For Greg S, the estimated volume of the rockfall was 1,000 m3 = 2,700 tonnes. Seems plausible. The big question now, given that the fall was from nearly the top of the wall, is whether there'll be any after-falls. A time when our late geologist friend Frank Baumann would have been of great help.

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Apr 20, 2015 - 11:28am PT
Better annotated photo, thanks to Mike for the before and after!

Note lowest scar: green outline, brand new dihedral!
Then probably the orange stuff failed in sequence, and this removed enough material for the red block to go as a single mass.
Credit: Oplopanax
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 20, 2015 - 12:05pm PT
Drew you stole my thunder! ;)

Here's the original before and after.

After, little further out

Before from the bluffs

Original after

Original before


Trad climber
Apr 20, 2015 - 12:20pm PT
It looks like that massive block underneath it is just waiting for a reason to go as well.
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 20, 2015 - 12:31pm PT
From way higher up, massive block realized and rotated out from the face. I could see debris at the toe of the block ravelling off, sensing something big was about to happen. The sound was incredible. Anybody who has climbed Angel's Crest knows that the sound echos off across the North Gully and the North Walls. At first I saw the base of the block moving and dust clouds forming. I've watched more than my share of rock fall and landslide videos through school and work and for fun, but this was a first experience for me.

It was hard to judge how close it was to me. The view of the mountains was momentarily blocked by the free-falling granite. There was no rotation, just one monster chunk of granite aimed straight down. I looked up and Mark, jaw-dropped and speechless. Once the block hit the forest below, a huge plume of rock dust engulfed the area below. The volume of rock is estimated at 1000-5000 cubic metres. I couldn't see the parties below at this point but hoped that they were ok.
Richard So


ya Nathan. could be.. the boot looks sketchy too though and it's still there...

Social climber
Apr 20, 2015 - 01:02pm PT
I'm really glad this pitch was far enough to the left. Probably the best dihedral pitch on the planet.

Pitch 2 of Calling
Pitch 2 of Calling
Credit: Impaler
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 20, 2015 - 01:07pm PT
The base of your pic is the impact zone.

Social climber
Apr 20, 2015 - 01:13pm PT
What Nathan said. I was thinking that exact same thing when I read his post. Looks like detachment all around. Maybe it's also held on by the brown poo that held the upper part.

Wow all around. Great shots Mike & thanks for the link to Richard So. Nice blog.
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 20, 2015 - 01:18pm PT
I think all that brown stuff is evidence that water and dirt was getting behind there for awhile. If you look at Dru's orange and green outlines, the rock fractures there are clean. So I think that thing was probably just sitting there being held by the flakes and pillar below it.

The upper right corner of the block fracture looks fairly clean too so, that was probably holding it as well.

Gstock? :)
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 20, 2015 - 01:36pm PT
Supercrop of the scar
Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
Apr 20, 2015 - 01:40pm PT
There seem to be new scrape/chip marks on the slab on top of the block below, but the main block may have been directed to its side and out, and so not have struck it directly. Still, the lower block looks rather precarious, and it seems likely that there'll be at least minor rockfall from the area for some time, possibly more.
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 20, 2015 - 01:55pm PT
Before supercrop

Notice all the dirt on the slope below? and in the groove above it. This thing's been lurking for awhile I bet.

It would appear that the block slid over/impacted that slab. If that lower chunk was about to go, one would think that it would have gone then??
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