IT’S the hard-won payoff for a vertical Sierra hike: a stomach-dropping overlook from a cliff-side perch, captured for posterity with a photo. But a snapshot with too much of an edge can turn fatal, as it did last week for an Irish student who fell to his death from Upper Yosemite Fall.
Dublin resident Shane Kinsella, 21, who had hiked to the top of Yosemite National Park’s famed waterfall with friends, was posing for a picture at the edge of the falls when he slipped and fell 1,430 feet over the precipice. His body was recovered in a pool at the base of the falls.
His death, and that of 22-year-old Rachael Neil of Mesa, Ariz., who drowned the week before when she lost her balance rock-hopping one-quarter mile above Yosemite’s Nevada Fall, underscore the hazards of slippery footing, fatigue and gushing water.
It’s been a particularly hazardous year at Yosemite, with five accidental deaths so far. High water from the wet winter and deep snowpack has made river crossings more perilous and caution the watchword for hikers on slippery surfaces.