updated 6/14/2009 12:21:20 AM ET 2009-06-14T04:21:20

A male hiker fell to his death while climbing Yosemite's famed Half Dome, park rangers said.

The man fell from the granite monolith Saturday afternoon, said Yosemite National Ranger Scott Gediman.

Gediman said there are indications the hiker was using the cable handrails that help climbers make the 17-mile round-trip, which begins in the Yosemite Valley and ascends nearly 5,000 feet).

The weather on Saturday made for dangerous conditions, and some 30 other Half Dome climbers were being escorted down by rangers on Saturday evening.

"Right now the weather is cold and cloudy, hail has been reported on Half Dome today and the granite gets very slippery," he said.

It was not immediately clear if the unidentified hiker was with a group or alone.

The last death at Half Dome was a Japanese hiker who slipped off of cables on June 16, 2007, as other hikers watched in horror.

Saturday's death was also witnessed by a number of other hikers, Gediman said, and an investigation has been launched.

The park estimates that about 50,000 hikers use the cable handrails to climb Half Dome each year.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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