Yosemite National Park is located along the eastern border of the state of California, and it covers almost 1,200 miles. Since the park is in the Sierra Nevada mountains, some parts are unreachable (by car) from November to May due to snow at higher altitudes; otherwise, Yosemite is open year-round. Every year, over 100 climbing accidents occur in this famous National Park, and group rescues are required regularly.

The art of simul-climbing

According to Climbing.com, for a climbing team to “advance quickly and stay warm on big routes,” they need to keep moving at the same time.

Longer routes like Yosemite cover such a diverse amount of terrain that it is easier to move together. The term “simul-climbing” is short for simultaneous climbing, which is an extremely dangerous way to rock climb.

The concept of this technique is for partners to move together, but the second person (known as the follower) should constantly keep a “free-solo” mindset. For this type of climb, there is no anchor to take the force of a fall; therefore, the follower could pull the leader right off the rock if he/she were to come off the rock. Simultaneous climbing should only be attempted when the follower is comfortable and experienced enough to solo climb. Truthfully, both people involved need to be experienced climbers.

Rangers investigate the cause of the fall

On Saturday morning (June 2), Yosemite park rangers received a call reporting the accident. Jason Wells, 46, and Tim Klein, 42, had fallen while climbing the Freeblast route of El Capitan. The formation known as El Capitan is located on the north side of Yosemite Valley and is a vertical rock made of granite.

The path known as the Freeblast route is a shorter section of the wall, which scales 3,000 feet. According to National Public Radio, the two had not only climbed together for years, but they had climbed El Capitan together several times before.

NPR quotes Climbing.com as saying: “The sad news marks the 25th accident resulting in a death on El Capitan." In previous years, others have faced the same fate while climbing other well-known parts of the Sierra Nevada.

Tyler Gordon lost his life on the Nose in 2015, Felix Kiernan on East Buttress in 2013, Mason Robison from a Muir Wall rock fall in 2013, and Jim Madesn on Dihedra Wall in 1968. While the incident is still being investigated, it has been reported that both men were very experienced climbers.