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Hiker Falls 600 Feet to Her Death at Yosemite National Park

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This year is proving to be one of the most deadly for hikers exploring the Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. Previously, the year 2007 held the record with 7 people dying at the park. However, sadly, the fourteenth hiker fell 600 feet to her death on Sunday while climbing the Half Dome, making 2011 the most deadly year yet.

26-year-old Haley LaFlamme was climbing with a group of four after receiving a rare permit to climb the Half Dome, an enormous smooth granite dome and the primary attraction at Yosemite National Park. Twenty other hikers also braved the slightly more dangerous than usual conditions, with wet and slippery granite and warnings of lightning and thunder. LaFlamme was using the cables installed on the dome by park officials to help with the steep and sometimes slippery climb.

Around 11 a.m. that day, park visitors began to send messages on Twitter about a raging thunderstorm. Shortly after, Yosemite’s emergency center received a 911 message that a hiker had fallen near the bottom of the cables. LaFlamme was pronounced dead at the scene. According to Yosemite National Park rangers, the largest group that gets into trouble at the park are those age 20 to 29. Rangers also say that the park’s dangerous features combined with a large and inexperienced tourist population contribute to a false sense of security. They warn that the force of nature is not something to be reckoned with–especially those who have little knowledge of what they may encounter.