El Capitan, the almost vertical rock that is considered one of the world’s most dangerous climbs, has claimed more lives as two people died yesterday whilst climbing the mountain in Yosemite National Park in California.
46-year-old Mr Jason Wells, hailing from Boulder, Colorado and his friend, 42-year-old Mr Tim Klein, hailing from Palmdale, California died during a fall whilst taking the Freeblast route to climb the steep rock.
The two men, who were experienced climbers, passed away when they used a system popular with speed climbers and some alpinists called “simul”. The dangerous new trend has caused many accidents this year already.
Mr Ken Yager, founder of the Yosemite Climbing Association, commented: “I’ve been worrying about this speed game for a while. The faster you go the more dangerous it is.”
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">My heart is shattered. We just saw him at graduation on Wednesday with the biggest smile on his face. He was an amazing teacher & human being. He passed doing what he loved.<br><br>Rest in paradise Mr. Klein. <a href="https://t.co/niJzeIQqdL">https://t.co/niJzeIQqdL</a></p>— 𝒱𝒾𝓋🌻 (@xvrxxo) <a href="https://twitter.com/xvrxxo/status/1003093896534953985?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 3, 2018</a></blockquote>
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“I understand the attraction of it, but speed climbing’s a lot different than what we did here 30 or 40 years ago, and what we did then was plenty dangerous. With speed climbing you don’t have time to double-check your systems. It’s all fun and games until you lose a party like this. It’s horrible.”
The Freeblast route, which the tow climbers used, has a 5.11 rating, which means it's a Class 5 climb, the first class that is designated as rock climbing.
Hiking magazine Sierra Trading Post explained: “A Class 5 route is considered technical free-climbing and requires the whole rock climbing getup: a rope, a harness, a belay device, climbing shoes, a helmet and other hardware, such as quickdraws, depending on the type of climbing you're doing.”
The decimal points that you get after this refer to the difficulty of the ascent.
“A 5.0 to 5.7 is considered easy, 5.8 to 5.10 is considered intermediate, 5.11 to 5.12 is hard, and 5.13 to 5.15 is reserved for a very elite few.”