Yosemite Climber Killed From Fall After Proposing to Girlfriend

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Kevin Corrigan
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Matthes Crest

Matthes Crest is a large granite fin that rises out of Tuolumne Meadows with sheer 500 foot cliffs lining the ridge. Photo: jfdervin/Flickr; http://ow.ly/AxgsM

8/20/14 - Truly sad news from Yosemite this past weekend, as a climber fell to his death only hours after proposing to his girlfriend on Saturday.

Brad Parker, 36, from Sebastopol, California, climbed Cathedral Peak, where he proposed to his girlfriend, Jainee Dial. She accepted, and Parker’s father told The Press Democrat that Brad told Jainee it was the happiest day of his life. Parker then left Dial behind to pursue a solo ascent of Matthes Crest. He reportedly fell from the traverse at 5.45 p.m. while free soloing. Park rangers located Parker’s body that evening, but waited until the following morning to remove it, as it was too late for a helicopter recovery.

Parker’s father told The Press Democrat that his son was “a capable, careful climber in top physical condition.” He suspects the fatigue of summiting Cathedral Peak then attempting Matthes Crest contributed to the fall.

Soloing the Matthes Crest Traverse (5.7) is not uncommon. Mountain Project goes so far as to recommend that it’s “probably best to simul or solo much of the route. To rope up for every single pitch would take a horrendous amount of time.“

Parker was by all accounts an experienced climber, having previously climbed the face of Half Dome. SuperTopo forum user Cedric Ma reported passing Parker just before the accident. “We talked to him as he passed us and another party of 2 at the notch between the north and south summit,” wrote Ma. “He said he was dehydrated and had cramps and asked us if we were rapping down from the notch (we were continuing to the north summit). After that, he continued to solo up the north summit and disappeared from view.

“We were a little concerned about his safety as he passed, mainly because it was getting late in the day and the crux of the route was coming up (followed by a 5.8 downclimb on the other side). Despite his stated conditions, there was nothing in his movements or words that indicated any distress or else we would have offered to rig him a harness and a rappel down from the notch. 20 minutes or so later, we heard a commotion. One of the lady climbers at the base was an EMT and did a check for pulse but he was gone. The location of the body looked like it came from quite a distance north of the north summit.”

Another SuperTopo user, Surfstar, confirmed the story from a different vantage.

“My partner and I heard a noise. We looked up and saw a climber falling. I'd guess it was from about 100 yards north of the north summit and stopped not much more than 50 yards from where we were,” wrote Surfstar. “A group nearby activated their Spot beacon and we called up to climbers near the notch to call SAR. We figured that there was nothing that could be done, but had to make sure.”

Beyond being a climber, Parker was also an avid surfer, mountain biker, and yoga practitioner. His family will spread Parker’s ashes in Toulumne Meadows, and in the Pacific Ocean near Sonoma, California, and Kauai, Hawaii.

Sources: PressDemocrat.com, SuperTopo, Mountain Project