A Welsh climber killed Wednesday in a massive rockfall at El Capitan in Yosemite National Park was traveling with his wife on an anniversary “dream holiday,” according to British media.
Yosemite National Park identified the man Thursday as Andrew Foster, 32, of Wales. The Telegraph and The Guardian identified his wife, who also was struck by the falling granite, as Lucy Foster, 28. She was airlifted to Sutter Health’s Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, said Nancy Turner, a spokeswoman for the hospital. As of late Friday morning, Lucy Foster was in fair condition.
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According to reports in the The Telegraph and The Guardian, the pair are from Cardiff. The two were married in 2016 and on a “dream holiday” to Yosemite, the Guardian reported. The Telegraph said the Fosters shared a love of climbing and outdoor adventure, and had started a year of traveling together.
The pair detailed their travel plans in a blog.
Park spokesman Scott Gediman said the couple were not climbing when a huge sheet of granite sloughed off the iconic monolith. The couple were at the base of El Capitan when the rockfall occurred. Rescuers reached them within an hour and pulled them from the rubble, where they were trapped under a rock, Gediman said.
A preliminary estimate showed a total of seven rockfalls from El Capitan’s southeast face occurred Wednesday, amounting to about 1,300 tons of granite. The largest was estimated to have been about 130 feet tall, 65 feet wide, and 3 to 10 feet thick. It fell from 650 feet above the base of El Capitan, or about 1,800 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley.
On Thursday, a man was injured in another El Capitan rockfall, this one larger than Wednesday’s. It appeared to come from just above where the granite slipped off El Capitan’s face the day before, in the East Buttress area. Traffic was being cleared from a nearby meadow and visitors were gathering to watch as one helicopter hovered over the debris.
Yosemite geologists measured more than 30,000 tons of granite that tumbled from El Capitan on Thursday, leaving a scar 395 feet tall, 148 feet wide, and up to 26 feet thick. The rockfall was the 29th largest in recorded Yosemite history, park officials said.
The man injured on Thursday was identified by KSEE-TV as Jim Evans, from Florida. Evans’ wife, Rachel Evans, told the television station that they were leaving the park in their SUV when a rock came through the window and hit her husband in the head.
Evans’ family issued a statement from Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, where he’s being treated for his injuries.
The family said visiting Yosemite was a “bucket list” item for them after Evans camped at the base of El Capitan in 1971 as a young man. They thanked emergency responders, park ranger and other tourist who were strangers to them for their help.
“Their thoroughness and responsiveness in getting us to safety was incredible, and their efforts are truly heroic in our eyes,” the statement read.
They also thanked the physicians and nurses at Doctors Medical Center hospital. They said they were “eternally grateful” to God after the event.
Despite Evans’ injuries, the family encouraged people to visit Yosemite.
“We certainly don’t regret taking it and we encourage people to visit this beautiful park. Sometimes incidents happen that are out of our control and the most important thing we can do is count our blessings and continue moving forward.”