Climber falls 100 feet in Behunin Canyon; midnight rescue by Zion Park Rangers, Nellis Air Rescue

SPRINGDALE – Nellis Air Rescue assisted Zion National Park Rangers in a lifesaving rescue of a climber that fell 100 feet in Behunin Canyon last night.

Behunin Narrows, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News
Behunin Narrows, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News | Click on photo to enlarge

At 5 p.m. on Monday, Zion National Park Rangers received notification of a serious fall in Behunin Canyon, a difficult, nine-hour canyoneering route above the Emerald Pools in Zion National Park. Three park medics reached the climber, a 33-year-old man from Arizona, a little after midnight at the bottom of the fifth of Behunin Canyon’s nine rappels.

He sustained significant injuries to his leg, hip, arm and head after falling 100 feet without rope protection. Due to the severity of his injuries and the remote location, Rescue Squadron 66 from Nellis Air Force Base was called in to extract him at night. The Nellis Air Rescue personnel and helicopter extracted him and his wife at 2:23 a.m., just before another rain system came in.

The man was transported to University Medical Trauma Center in Las Vegas.

The park medics spent the night in the canyon and were able to hike out by 1:00 p.m. today.

“Considering the weather, we were very lucky Nellis Air Rescue was able to respond,” Chief Ranger Cindy Purcell said. “That, and his helmet, probably saved his life.”

Purcell said that the hiking party seemed well prepared for an extended day with extra clothing, first aid kit, water filter, headlamps and a space blanket.

“They were also able to self-rescue and provide an early report, which helped,” she said.

Witnesses reported that, in another slot canyon, they advised this climber that he should be tied in near the edge, the Park’s statement issued on the incident said, and that in this instance, he was not tied in at the time of his fall.

The Park has not released names of those involved in the incident at this time.

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Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Bev Lowe September 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    What does ‘Tied in near the edge’ mean???

    • Chris September 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      It means having a rope tied to your harness and anchored safely while standing near the edge of a cliff.

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