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Fatal Half Dome fall: Rain may have been factor in woman's plunge

August 1, 2011 |  2:05 pm

Yosemite's Half Dome

A San Ramon woman who fell to her death from the top of Yosemite National Park's Half Dome peak was hiking on granite that had been soaked by a morning rainstorm and may have been slippery, a Yosemite spokeswoman said Monday.

Hayley LaFlamme, 26, was using mounted cables to descend the dome's granite face around noon Sunday when she slipped and fell 600 feet, Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

When National Park Rangers arrived, they pronounced her dead.

A steady rain fell for about two hours Sunday morning, making the granite's surface wet and slick, Cobb said. Signs at the top and bottom of Half Dome warn hikers not to climb the cables near the top during rain and lightning storms, she said.

But the trail does not officially close, and it's up to individuals to make their own decision, she said.

"There were about 20 other people on the cables, but the others turned around or didn't go up because of the weather,'' Cobb said.

LaFlamme was with a group of three friends and famiy, the spokeswoman said.

The accident comes two weeks after three hikers fell over a popular Yosemite waterfall and died.

Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto, Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock and Ramina Badal, 21, of Modesto were on a day trip to Yosemite with friends and family when they climbed over a metal guardrail at the top of Vernal Falls, park officials said.

Witnesses told rangers several people urged the group to get out of the cold, fast-moving water, but the three were swept over the edge of the 317-foot falls.

Sunday's death was the first this season on Half Dome. Four others have perished attempting the 12-hour hike since 2006.

Cobb advised hikers to make sure they were fit and experienced enough to climb the iconic slab that gains 5,000 feet in elevation.

"Yosemite is a very wild place,'' she said. "It’s up to the vistor to assess safety concerns and make decisions based on their level of comfort."

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Photo: Yosemite National Park's Half Dome, at left. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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