Canyoneer killed in weekend accident at Little Cottonwood Canyon

Jun 7, 2023, 6:20 AM

SALT LAKE CITY -- A 34-year-old is in critical condition after falling on a hike in Big Cottonwood ...

A road snakes through Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County on June 1. A canyoneer died over the weekend in the canyon during a rappelling accident. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News )

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News )

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON — A canyoneer died over the weekend in a rappelling accident in Little Cottonwood Canyon, authorities said.

The canyoneer rappelled off the end of his or her rope on the Great White Icicle and fell 300 feet, resulting in fatal injuries, according to Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue. The identity of the canyoneer has not yet been released.

Search and rescue officials said the canyoneer was knowledgeable about the location of the next rappel station but for some reason passed it. The person’s partner attempted to signal that the canyoneer had gone too far, but the warning was inaudible due to noise from the water. The partner reached the canyoneer and attempted to administer first aid.

Search and rescue officials say the canyoneers opted not to put knots in the end of their ropes over worry that the ropes would get stuck and become impossible to retrieve in the water.

“This was a very sad accident that happened to a well-prepared, experienced party,” the county search and rescue group said in a Facebook post. “It is a good reminder to add medical and rescue skills to your toolbox.”

The incident is among a handful of recent fatalities that Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue has responded to. Three out of the agency’s last four callouts were fatalities involving massive trauma and injured partners. The other two deaths were climbers killed in falls at Storm Mountain and Outside Corner in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

“These are obviously horrible, horrible high-stress events for everyone involved. To promote awareness for future climbers and canyoneers, it is worth bringing to light some of the events surrounding these tragedies as a reminder for each of us to keep constantly vigilant to the hazards of climbing and canyoneering,” officials said. “This is in no way intended to point blame at anyone involved in these accidents. We express our deepest condolences to the families and friends who have suffered these losses.”


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Canyoneer killed in weekend accident at Little Cottonwood Canyon