George Whitmore, legendary climber of El Capitan, dies at 89

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George Whitmore, one of the three men on the first team to climb El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, is seen on a hike to Taft Point with El Capitan in the background across Yosemite Valley on May 26, 2016. Whitmore, a member of the first team of climbers to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and a conservationist who devoted his life to protecting the Sierra Nevada, has died. He was 89. Whitmore died on New Year’s Day from complications caused by COVID-19, said his wife, Nancy. She said Whitmore, a cancer survivor, was extremely careful about wearing a mask and family don’t know where he contracted the virus. (Eric Paul Zamora/Fresno Bee via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — George Whitmore, a member of the first team of climbers to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, has died at age 89.

Whitmore’s wife Nancy says he died on New Year’s Day from complications caused by COVID-19.

Friends, family, colleagues and fellow climbers mourned the passing of a rock climbing legend.

He was the last surviving member of the trio that was the first to reach the top of El Capitan on Nov. 12, 1958.

Scaling the 3,000-foot sheer granite rock wall was then considered a feat out of human reach. It now attracts climbers from around the world. Whitmore was also a noted conservationist.

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