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Published: Tuesday, 5/21/2013

Montana man dies in Yosemite climbing accident


YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif.  — A Montana man died in a rock climbing accident as he tried to climb to the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, authorities said.

Mason Robison, 38, was killed after a rock dislodged and severed his rope as he and a partner were about 2,300 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb said Monday.

The two climbers were about 600 feet from the summit around 9:15 a.m. Sunday when Robison put a piece of gear into what’s called a “flake,” or a deep crack in a large rock that runs along the slope, and it dislodged and severed his line.

Robison fell about 230 feet, with a second line eventually stopping his fall but leaving him dangling and hanging motionless.

A park helicopter flew rangers and search-and-rescue teams to the summit of El Capitan, where rangers, described by Cobb as “highly trained” in cliff rescues, rappelled down to reach Robison and his climbing partner.

Robison was pronounced at the scene. His partner, who has not been named, was not hurt.

El Capitan is a favorite climbing area for experienced rock climbers. Rising more than 3,000 feet above the valley below, it is the largest monolith of granite in the world, according to Yosemite’s website.

Robison’s death is the second accidental death at the park this year, Cobb said.

Earlier this month, a 73-year-old Minnesota man died when he apparently fell at the park’s Vernal Fall after stopping to take a photo.

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