El Capitan climbers: Yosemite rock fall is biggest in memory

El Capitan climbers: Yosemite rock fall is biggest in memoryā€¯

Two thundering rock falls in as many days at Yosemite National Park's landmark El Capitan left experienced climbers stunned as huge plumes of dust enveloped the valley below.

A man injured when a second massive rock fall plunged in Yosemite was driving out of the park when rock and rubble broke through the sunroof of his SUV and a rock hit him in the head, his wife said.

The park remains open and all visitor services remain unaffected by the rockfalls, say Yosemite officials.

El Capitan is one of the world's largest granite monoliths towering vertically 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) from the Yosemite Valley floor. He estimates 30 or more climbers were on the wall at the time, but he could not confirm injuries or the size of the rock fall.

These climbers snapped photos from above during the incident.

Shocked climber Peter Zabrok, who watched the rockfall from further up the cliff face, said that it sounded like "a thousand freight trains derailing at once but louder". He says traffic on a road near the base of El Capitan has stopped.

The formation is popular among climbers, like Alec Wright from Eugene, Oregon.

"It was more significant than anything I've seen before", DeGrazio said. It was not clear Thursday if the victims were climbers or tourists. I free climbed past this section and was shaken by how insecure the entire pitch was.

"Yosemite is just a really active, wild place". The largest of the rocks that fell was about 40m tall (about the height of a 12-storey building), 20m wide, and about 3m thick at its widest point, according to a Yosemite release.

Indeed, rockslides are a natural occurrence, and climbers need to be aware of the risks when they make an ascent.

Two people were injured and one died in a series of rockfalls Wednesday that displaced an estimated 1,300 tons.

The park indicated that seven rock falls actually occurred during a four-hour period Wednesday on the southeast face of El Capitan.

"It's kind of an inherently risky sport", Hayden Jamieson, 24, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., said Friday, as he prepared to head up the nose of El Capitan early today with his climbing partner.

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