Solo canyoneer dies in Death Valley rappelling accident
DEATH VALLEY, Calif. — A 54-year-old man was found dead after falling while canyoneering alone in Death Valley National Park Dec. 3.
Canyoneering is a sport that involves descending canyons by a combination of hiking, downclimbing, and rappelling. It is typically done as a group activity, due to the inherent risks.
“We recommend that anyone going into the backcountry lets someone know their plans. The park doesn’t track the 1.7 million people that visit each year,” said Abby Wines, park spokesperson and avid canyoneer. “This man was not reported overdue, and the search did not start in time to save his life. A satellite communication device also could have been a lifesaver.”
Several clues led to a search for the man. A campground host reported a campsite with a tent still in it (but no people) after the dates the site was paid for. Park rangers left a note on the site. The rangers returned the following day to pack up the abandoned property and found climbing gear and a package with a name and address in the tent.
The rangers recalled having seen a vehicle at Mosaic Canyon Trailhead late in the day when they finished carrying out a person with an injury a couple days earlier. The vehicle was still there, so they ran the plates. It was registered to the person addressed on the package in the tent.
The search and subsequent body recovery were conducted by National Park Service, Inyo County SAR, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake’s VX-31 rescue helicopter, and California Highway Patrol’s H-82 helicopter. The official cause of death will be determined by Inyo County Coroner’s Office.
Park rangers and SAR team members observed that the man’s rope was not long enough to reach the ground on a long rappel. He tied a piece of webbing to the end of the rope but appears to have made a mistake when disconnecting his rappel device to pass the knot joining the rope and webbing. Rangers estimate he fell about 30 feet.
The man died in the West Fork route in Mosaic Canyon. The first known canyoneering descent of this route was in 2012. There are over 100 known canyoneering routes in the park. This is not a route that is commonly descended.
Information provided by NPS
- Driver identified in fatal accident on Perkinsville Road Sept. 19
- Latest Tik Tok challenges causing problems for Williams Unified School District
- Search at Grand Canyon turns up remains of person missing since 2015
- Plane wreckage and human remains found in Grand Canyon National Park
- Pumpkin Patch Train departs Williams starting Oct. 5
- Update: Man missing in Grand Canyon National Park hike found alive
- Receding water levels at Lake Powell reveal missing car and driver
- Man sentenced for attack on camper at Perkinsville
- Column: Lumber prices expected to stay high through 2022
- Elk rut season in Grand Canyon: What you need to know
- Arizona governor Katie Hobbs vetoes bill eliminating tax on rentals
- The winter that won't quit
- Havasupai campground evacuated after destructive floods
- Residents discuss rumors of new Autocamp site at City Council meeting
- City of Williams deals with aftermath of historic winter
- Williams Police report rash of vehicle burglaries
- Campers and pets rescued at Dogtown Campground
- All in the family: Deanna Plasencia is the new owner of the Red Raven
- Winter rainfall triggers flooding in Williams and Verde Valley
- Grand Canyon National Park trails, viewing areas closed due to hazardous conditions
Click Below to: