Hiker Killed in 500-Foot Fall While Climbing Half Dome at Yosemite

The thrill of trying to reach the top of Half Dome at Yosemite National Park turned fatal on Thursday for a hiker who fell 500 feet from the famed rock face as she was scaling the steepest part of the trail, the authorities said.

The hiker, Danielle Burnett, 29, of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., was dead when park rangers reached her, according to a park spokesman, Scott Gediman, who said the accident was under investigation.

Ms. Burnett had been climbing a rigorous top section of Half Dome, one that uses a pair of fixed cables for hikers to hold onto, when she fell, officials said.

She is at least the 12th person since 1995 to die while hiking Half Dome, according to news reports.

There have been dozens of search-and-rescue calls to Half Dome, where hikers have sought to follow in the footsteps of the naturalist John Muir and the photographer Ansel Adams. The massive rock soars to 8,800 feet above sea level and was pictured on the California state quarter issued in 2005.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Nichole Lee Burnett mourned the loss of her sister, who was a social media manager at Havasu Springs Resort in Parker, Ariz., according to her LinkedIn profile.

“It’s with a broken heart to inform you all that our beautiful Danielle left us yesterday doing something she loved so much,” she wrote.

In April, Danielle Burnett shared a photo on a mountain top at sunset on what appeared to be her own Facebook page.

“When you fall back, you get a better view,” the post said. It was unclear where the photo was taken.

A permit is required for the 17-mile Half Dome hike, which turns into a 45-degree ascent along the cabled section.

There are wooden planks spaced out about every 10 feet for hikers to rest and get their footing on the busy trail, which photos and videos show is frequently crowded during the summer.

The National Park Service limits the number of day-hikers and backpackers allowed on the trail to 300 per day.

The use of safety harnesses attached to the cables is optional. But some hiking message boards and travel websites questioned the practice as time-consuming and not foolproof.

Cables were installed on Half Dome a century ago and have been replaced over the years. Many people use gloves to hold onto the cables, where ascending hikers pass side by side with those making the descent.

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