A park visitor captured footage of a remarkable rock slide at Yosemite National Park's iconic El Capitan. Park officials said boulders toppled from the 3,000-foot-tall mountain. The slide happened close to the area where visitors see the breathtaking "Firefall" at Horsetail Fall. Artist Alex Wood captured the video of the tumbling rocks.
Wood, who was visiting the park for the first time from England, told Mercury News, "Initially, I couldn't understand why there was such a loud clap of thunder when it was completely blue clear skies." Wood continued, "I then looked across and saw a giant piece of El Capitan, in the shape of a huge oversized grand piano, plummet. I immediately began to film. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I realize what I was witnessing was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence."
Photographer James Piper also captured footage from the back end of the rock slide, as dust filled the air and crashing rocks echoed throughout the valley while the debris settled at the foot of the rock formation. Piper wrote in his Twitter caption, "A giant section of rock broke off El Capitan in Yosemite today. As far as I know, no one was hurt."
A giant section of rock broke off El Capitan in Yosemite today. As fall as I know, no one was hurt. pic.twitter.com/7MihvT3V2Y
— James Piper (@JAMESPIPERPHOTO) February 21, 2023
Rock slides are common throughout the park. Thankfully, no one was injured during this one. Officials tweeted, "This was 5-10 times smaller than the 2017 rockfall. It released from right near the top of Horsetail Fall." Yosemite National Park spokesperson Scott Gediman told SFGATE that geologists surveyed El Capitan after the massive rock slide, closing Northside Drive for over 24 hours. Gediman told the Mercury News the slide produced around 1,000 to 2,000 cubic yards of granite rock, weighing hundreds of tons. It would take 100 to 200 dump trucks to remove that amount of debris.
It's not the first rock slide in the valley, and it most certainly won't be the last.
"There are rock falls every day here," Gediman told Mercury News. "It might be a few small rocks or a significant one. Everyone in the valley heard this one."
READ MORE: Yosemite Rockfall Kills California Couple
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