El Capitan Meets El Héroe

Helena Guglielmino | ClimbingClimbing
Yosemite airlift takes El Capitan Victim to Hospital, captured by Dakota Sinder, Yosemite Interpretive Naturalist

Andrew Foster loved his wife. He loved his wife so much, that he died shielding her from massive chunks of El Capitan that rained down upon them September 27th at approximately 1:55pm. The Welsh couple was celebrating their first year of marriage in Yosemite. They loved the outdoors and committed themselves to a life of adventure, and a life together. They were even planning to outfit a van and travel through the Alps for a year once they got home from their anniversary adventure.

The death of Andrew was blindsiding. Death is not a common consequence to rockfall in Yosemite. In fact, it has been 18 years since a rockfall has taken a human life. This is not due to a small number of falls or small slabs fallen in the past two decades. There are around 80 rockfalls a year in Yosemite, caused by weather, earthquakes, or gravity itself. Each recorded fall is similar in size to the one that killed Andrew and gave his wife, Lucy, life threatening injury. In fact, there were six other seven rockfalls that occurred on the southeast face of El Capitan on the 27th. 

“Andrew saved my life. He dived on top of me as soon as he could see what was going to happen. He saved my life,” Lucy explained to Gillian Stephens, Andrew’s aunt, who later told a British newspaper. Lucy was flown from the Waterfall Route the two were anticipating climbing to a hospital in critical condition. Andrew was pronounced dead on the scene.

Dust from the rockfall on El Capitan. Captured by Yosemite National Park.

The Foster couple were so passionate about the outdoors that they started their own blog, Cam and Bear. They describe themselves as weekend warriors and that their weekends were committed to climbing – weather permitting. Lucy posted on the 19th of May about their upcoming trip to Yosemite. She was nervous about big wall climbing, she wasn’t “keen” on it, but Andrew was gung-ho. It’s “A rock climber’s dream!!” In a post about their Yosemite trip he writes: “found an article written by Mark Twight called TINSTAAFL which stands for ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch’. Now in the context of the article he was talking about physical training but I think the same applies to mental training. You have to train yourself to control your fears.”

El Capitan couple
Andrew and Lucy, taken from their adventure blog Cam and Bear

Control his fears he did to save his beloved. And what a brilliant hero he will be remembered as.

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