Climber dies in Yosemite

By Craig Cassidy, The Union Democrat June 03, 2013 11:21 am

A climber died over the weekend in Yosemite National Park when he was hit by a falling rock on El Capitan’s East Buttress.

The incident happened about 2 p.m. Sunday and was one of two fatal accidents in the park over there weekend.

In the other incident, a Sacramento man swimming in the Merced River on Saturday was swept over the 600-foot Nevada Fall.

The victim of Sunday’s incident was identified as Felix Joseph Kiernan, 28, of London, England.

He and his climbing partner were about 600 feet up the popular climbing route when a loose rock — measuring about 1 by 2 feet — was dislodged. It fell about 150 feet before striking Kiernan.

“A second party climbing just below Kiernan immediately called the Yosemite Emergency Communication Center via cell phone and reported the incident. Yosemite Park Rangers and Yosemite Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel were immediately dispatched to El Capitan where they began climbing the route to reach the climbing party,” park officials said in a prepared statement.

Kiernan’s body was recovered about 4 p.m.

California Highway Patrol and park helicopters were used to deliver rescue equipment onto the wall and to hoist the victim to Yosemite Valley.

Park Rangers rappelled the route with Kiernan's partner and the second climbing party.


This was the second death on El Capitan in as many months.


On May 19, a Wyoming man was killed when a piece of dislodged rock cut his rope.