Hiker Plunges to Her Death at Yosemite

Hiker Hayley LaFlamme was descending Half Dome
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2011 7:17 AM CDT
In this July 23, 2011 photo provided by the National Park Service, visitors are seen climbing Half Dome via cables in Yosemite National Park, Calif.   (AP photo/National Park Service, Kari Cobb)
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(Newser) – Less than two weeks after three hikers were swept over Vernal Fall, another woman has died at Yosemite National Park. Hayley LaFlamme, 26, had reached the Half Dome summit—a treacherous hike that can take as long as 12 hours to finish—and was descending Sunday when she reportedly lost her grip on the summit cables and plunged 600 feet down the steep, almost vertical, slope to her death. LaFlamme is the 14th person to die at the park this year, an especially deadly one for Yosemite, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

On average, five to six people die between January and August, but record snowpack has contributed to especially dangerous conditions this year. LaFlamme's hiking group had ignored warnings to avoid the climb, which was made even more dangerous by wet weather and slippery granite after morning thunderstorms. Both a park ranger and posted signs warned visitors of the dangers of going up the summit cables, which are necessary to get up the last 400 feet of the extremely steep climb, "but ultimately it is the visitor's decision whether they want to take that risk," says a park spokesperson. (Read more Yosemite National Park stories.)

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