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Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park


A woman apparently hiking alone to the summit of Angels Landing has fallen to her death. Photo of Angels Landing by QT Luong, used with permission.

A woman hiking up Angels Landing in Zion National Park apparently tripped and fell about 1,000 feet to her death, according to park officials.

The woman, who was not immediately identified, was thought to be hiking alone when she fell around 2 p.m. Friday, District Ranger Ray O'Neil said this morning.

"She was a third of the way from Scout Lookout to the top," the ranger said. "We're still looking into it at this point. It just sounds like a terrible accident."

Weather apparently wasn't a factor, as it was sunny with temperatures in the 50s and low 60s, he said. There were others in the area who saw her fall, and they were interviewed by rangers.

While there are chains along some sections of the trail that hikers can hold onto as they go up and down, the woman was thought to be in an area where there were no chains, said the ranger.

“It’s roughly in the saddle area. When you go from Scout Lookout you go up just a little bit and then you go down just a little bit before you go on the big ascent to the top," he said. More details were expected later today.

The last hiker to die along the route was a California woman who fell in August.


So what is the total body count from hikers falling to their deaths since Zion became a National Park? I'd really like to know, somebody please answer.

I think the count from Angel's Landing is 6.

Ranger Holly

3 in the last 4 years. Another 6 years ago on my son's wedding day (he was married on the lawn as the helicopter recovering the boy's body flew overhead.)

I worked at the Lodge this summer as concierge. When I was asked about Angel's Landing, I got very serious with the people, explaining about how tough the hike could be. I also told them it was worth it (I've been there), but that they needed good balance and to not be afraid of heights. I'd tell the kids, especially teenage boys, that one of their own age group died there a few years ago because he was apparently goofing off. If you go, and you should, be careful.

You better count again Ranger Lady, there have been at least 4 deaths this year alone; people are still responding to the last article about safety on Angels Landing, then there was another death a few weeks after that one; now this; that's three since the first article was posted. I believe there was another earlier in the year.

I just hope they don't close the trail. It is probably the most dangerous trail in all the parks however each person should decide whether to climb it.

According to the local newspaper (The Daily Spectrum) it was the 2nd fatal fall from Angel's Landing this year:

It would seem that nobody is keeping an accurate account of the true number of deaths at Angel's Landing. The Park service hasn't updated their "FAQ" since 2006. Here is a list someone gleamed from the web for a Wikipedia article. I'd swear I've read about 3 deaths since the beginning of the summer (2009), so this list may also be incomplete, but the total shown here is 9, not 5, as alleged on the Park Service web site:

* November 2009: Tammy Grunig, 50, of Pocatello, Idaho [4]
* August 2009: Nancy Maltez, 55, of Glendora, California[5]
* June 2007: Barry Goldstein, 53, of St. Louis, Missouri[6]
* August 2006: Bernadette Vandermeer, 29, of Las Vegas, Nevada[7]
* June 2004: Kristoffer Jones, 14, of Long Beach, California[8]
* May 1997: Patricia Bottarini, 36, of Medford, New Jersey (husband later acquitted of murder)[9]
* Jan 1997: John Christensen, 36, of Provo, Utah[10]
* April 1989: Jeffery Robert Dwyer, 28, of Sandpoint, Idaho[11][12]
* May 1987: Denver woman[13]

I was curious about deaths at Angels. My web search only turned up the August, 2009 fall and a reference to the 2007 fall.

I was amazed that the AL trail is open, and my thought was that if they were developing this park today, no way that trail would be open without permits or guides or some risk-reducing restriction. Thankfully, the Angels Landing trail was there before the U.S. became hyper about eliminating risk. There are lots of other places in the park where a stumble could be fatal. I was there in October and here are a couple pictures taken at spots where you could take a looonng mistep:


Angels landing is no more hazardous than many places in the park. The chance of an accident is very small. But spread that minuscule chance across the thousands of people that make the hike, and I'd say it's mathematical certainty that people will die there. What is the park supposed to do? Put up fences everwhere? Keep everybody on the canyon floor? The risks are pretty well advertised, so if you set out on that trail, you've opted in. Sad that accidents happen, but risk is part of life, and at least she was warned.

My heart goes out to her loved ones.

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