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Rockslide Closes Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel

The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park was closed and around 300 guests evacuated Wednesday because of rockslides. Officials said the hotel would likely remain closed until Friday afternoon, according to various reports. Apparently rocks the size of microwave ovens were falling in the luxury hotel's parking lot. No one was reported injured.

Last October, falling rocks hit 17 cabins and closed part of Curry Village permanently. Falling rock is an accepted reality in Yosemite and unlikely to end. According to the Associated Press, the situation is even dire:

An Associated Press story last year said that geologists have warned for at least a decade that the granite face of Glacier Point above the village was dangerous. Despite two deaths and an increase in the frequency and severity of the rockfalls since 1996, park officials had been reluctant to act.
Let's get something clear here. The park awards contracts to concessionaires, and the Ahwahnee Hotel is run by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, a kind of giant in the industry. A concessionaire's goal is to make money and no guests mean no money. So, maybe huge boulders crashing into the beautiful arts-and-crafts Ahwahnee Hotel or atop guests in their cars is a possibility -- but hoteliers and concessionaires would probably prefer to deal with the issue of vacating Curry Village after Labor Day.

The Ahwahnee is also a national landmark, built in the 1920s through Herculean efforts. Destroying or dismantling the hotel may not be a possibility for both historical and political reasons. I think the only hope for Curry Village is if geologists, park officials and concessionaires can work together to come up with a practical solution.

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

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