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Investigation continues into death of two climbers who fell from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite
El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Two veteran climbers fell Saturday while climbing the challenging Freeblast route on the sheer granite face, the park service said.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The investigation is continuing into the death of two veteran rock climbers who were killed Saturday when they fell from the sheer granite face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, officials said.

The two climbers were identified as Tim Klein, 42, of Palmdale, and Jason Wells, 46, of Boulder, Colo., according to the park service.

They fell about 8:15 a.m. while climbing the Freeblast route on El Capitan, which rises 3,000 feet and is a favorite challenge for climbers.

Climbing.com reported that Wells and Klein, longtime friends and climbers, were roped together when they fell about 1,000 feet.

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The two men began climbing together during their college years in San Diego, Wayne Willoughby, a friend who has climbed El Capitan with Klein before, told the online magazine.

“Tim told me that Jason was the strongest and best partner he every climbed with,” he said, noting that the two men had climbed El Capitan many times over the years.

Freeblast is a climbing route on the first stretch of near-vertical rock above the tree line on El Capitan.

Yosemite’s majestic rock faces have proven both alluring and deadly for climbers.

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On May 21, a man died on Half Dome after he slipped and fell during a thunderstorm in the last 400 feet of the climb, where hikers grasp cables to scale the summit.

Since the cables were installed nearly a century ago, eight people have died on that stretch, which is often congested with hikers in the warm months, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

In September 2017, a climber was killed on El Capitan and another injured when a rock crashed down on a popular climbing route along the East Buttress of the monolith.

Some of the best rock climbers in the world have risked their lives at Yosemite to achieve record-breaking feats. On May 30, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell broke the speed record for an ascent of El Capitan’s Nose route, scaling the rock’s forbidding prow in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 15 seconds.

Hans Florine, Honnold’s partner in a previous record-setting climb in 2012, watched from a wheelchair after being injured in a May 4 fall from the Nose. In June 2017, Honnold became the first person to climb El Capitan without ropes.


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