Brad Parker, a 36-year-old veteran rock climber and Sebastopol resident, died from a fall while climbing alone in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park on Saturday — the same day he had proposed to his girlfriend.
Parker, a world traveler and climber since he graduated from Santa Rosa’s Montgomery High School in 1996, had completed a climb to the summit of Cathedral Peak with his girlfriend, Jainee Dial, and she had accepted his marriage proposal, said the climber’s father, Bill Parker, a former Santa Rosa resident.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” Parker told Dial, according to his father.
The couple separated, as Parker headed off by himself to climb Matthes Crest, a dramatic ridge of upturned rock about three miles from Cathedral Peak.
Other climbers saw Parker fall about 5:45 p.m., Yosemite Park Ranger Kari Cobb said. He was climbing alone and without ropes on the granite crest, an established route, known as a “traverse” for the lateral direction of the climb, Cobb said.
While challenging and exposed, Matthes Crest is not known as a technically difficult route. The website Backpacker.com describes the crest as “a dramatic fin of rock” with features that “make for ladder-like, easily protected climbing.”
Park rangers hiked in, located Parker’s body and remained with it overnight since it was too late to summon a helicopter, Cobb said. On Sunday morning, a helicopter brought his body from the backcountry.
Parker’s death was the second climbing fatality in Yosemite this year. Cobb said there are typically one or two a year.
Bill and Gayle Parker, who flew back from their new home in Kauai on Sunday, were at the county coroner’s office in Modesto on Monday to begin making arrangements to have their son’s body cremated. Bill Parker said they were accepting the advice of others familiar with climbing deaths not to view their son’s body.
“We’re all so stunned,” Parker said. “What happened is so unbelievable.”