July 5, 2015: The climb to the top of Half Dome just became harder. A huge sheet of granite measuring 100 by 200 feet fell off the face and created a “rockfall” below. No one saw the giant hunk of rock plunge to the valley floor. It fell very late on July 2 or early July 3 according to park spokeswoman Jodi Bailey. Those days had heavy rain which may have contributed to the fall.
“What used to be relatively easy climbing has gotten much more difficult,” said park geologist and climber Greg Stock.
There are several routes for climbers to scale Half Dome, but the one impacted when the rock fell ranks as one of the top 50 climbing destinations in North America, said Mike Gauthier, Yosemite’s chief of staff and an avid climber. The northwest route remains open with signs warning climbers they must navigate around the altered section due to loose remaining rock.
The rock fell from halfway up the sheer face of Half Dome, which rises more than 1,000 feet. A path for hikers using cable handrails was not changed.
The NPS Facebook page had comments from visitors that the trail below Half Dome which is part of the Mirror Lake Loop is also affected with debris and dirt. Parts of the trail are buried but it is still passable and remains open.