“I've never seen anything like that.”
El Capitan is one of the most popular hiking locations in the country, with the 3,000 vertical feet of granite rock attracting adventure travelers from around the world. The park describes the site as a “beacon for visitors, a muse for photographers and one of the world’s ultimate challenges for climbers.”
The Yosemite rockfall, of “undetermined size,” took place Wednesday afternoon along the popular Waterfall Route, according to the park. A park helicopter and Yosemite rescue teams assessed the situation and transported the injured person out of the park.
Peter Zabrok, a witness to the incident, estimated that the rock was at least 100 feet wide and fell from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet when it struck hikers at the base.
“I've never seen anything like that,” Zabrok told NBC News. “If we had not climbed as quickly as we did, which is quicker than I usually climb, we'd be dead now.”
The incident is especially unfortunate as it is currently hiking season in Yosemite, according to the park, putting many visitors on the hiking trails in the park.
Sadly, deaths in Yosemite are not extremely rare. Twenty-five people died in the park from falls and other accidents in 2016, The New York Times reported.