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Modesto educator, global volunteer dies in Yosemite climbing fall

Here’s how to and how not to hike Half Dome at Yosemite safely

A hiker who fell in Yosemite National Park while using the Half Dome cables died on May 22, 2018. This National Park Service video explains how to be careful while climbing the attraction.
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A hiker who fell in Yosemite National Park while using the Half Dome cables died on May 22, 2018. This National Park Service video explains how to be careful while climbing the attraction.

A Modesto resident and Glick Middle School teacher’s aide died earlier this month while rock climbing in Yosemite National Park, a friend and colleague told The Bee.

Patricia “Trish” Stoops, 57, worked with English language development teacher Jamey Olney at Glick, where they founded The H.O.P.E. Project, which stands for Helping Other People Everywhere. The women and their students were the topic of a Bee article in February after they traveled to Butte County to help a father and daughter who lost their Paradise home to the Camp fire.

Stoops also worked with Habitat for Humanity and as a project director in El Salvador for the Fuller Center for Housing.

Yosemite Climbing Management posted a notice in the park that “a fatal rappelling accident occurred at the top of Central Pillar of Frenzy on the evening of Saturday, June 8, 2019.” The Mountain Project climbing resource site says the Central Pillar of Frenzy “is a super-popular line up the obvious pillar on the lefthand side of Middle Cathedral’s northeast face. There are almost always several parties on, or in line for, this climb.”

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Glick Middle School teacher Jamey Olney shared on Facebook this undated photo of her friend and colleague Trish Stoops doing one of the things she loved most, climbing. Courtesy of Jamey Olney

On a Mountain Project forum page created as a memorial to Stoops, her older brother Michael wrote that while rappelling with other climbers, “she had taken the lead to get the team down before dark and something, what exactly still isn’t clear, went horribly wrong. She did not survive the fall, unfortunately. No one else was injured.“

Olney said her friend had the “heart of a servant. She looked for ways to be a blessing to anyone she came in contact with. No one was a stranger.”

Stoops walked away from a lucrative career as an architect in Manhattan Beach to build houses for others through Habitat, the Fuller Center and other organizations, Olney said. She led a bohemian lifestyle that took her around the world, and she and Olney were to take a group of 10 Glick students to Mexico this summer to build a house for a family in need.

Olney and the H.O.P.E. Project kids still are planning the trip to build the house July 27-29 in a partnership with San Diego-based Amor Ministries. The effort will be a celebration of Stoops’ life and legacy, the teacher said.

Olney shared the news of Stoops’ death with the H.O.P.E. Project students, who reacted with shock and disbelief. “There’s definitely going to be a void” as the service group continues its work, she said. Losing her friend feels like she lost a big part of herself, Olney said, and “what’s driving me now is, no matter what, to honor her memory.”

Michael Stoops posted on his sister’s memorial page that she had a boyfriend, who was not among the climbing team when she fell. Olney said her friend never married and has no children, but said in addition to her blood relatives, Stoops has a school family, a climbing family and a service family. “The world was her family.”

For the Mexico trip, The H.O.P.E. Project has raised $4,000 through the generosity of family, friends, and community, Olney said. “We still have $4,000 left to raise to cover travel and building materials.”

There is a gofundme account set up at www.gofundme.com/help-middle-school-students-build-homes-in-mexico, but donations can be sent directly to: Amor Ministries, 3636 Camino del Rio North, Suite 215, San Diego, CA 92108. Memo: Glick Middle School.

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Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.
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