Climber Dies after Fall at Zion National Park

3:42 p.m. on October 21, 2014 (EDT)
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Climber Dies after Fall at Zion National Park

October 19, 2014 Posted by: Zion National Park Christopher H. Spencer, age 47 and a resident of San Jose, CA, died Sunday afternoon, October 19, 2014, after taking a fall in Zion National Park. The cause of the incident is currently under investigation by the Washington County Sheriff's Office in cooperation with the National Park Service.
Spencer and a fellow climber were starting the climb of "Iron Messiah," a technical 5.10 climb in Zion Canyon. The pair was on an approach pitch in easy 5th apparently fell backward tumbling approximately 80 feet down the steep slope striking a series of ledges. Spencer was not roped in and was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. 
Rangers were notified of the accident at approximately 1100 hours and ParkMedics reached Spencer by 1200. ParkMedics and a requested Lifeflight medical crew stabilized Spencer during the almost three hour technical evacuation. Spencer was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries. 
This is the fourth fatal accident in the park for 2014 and the eighth climbing fatality since 1983. 

9:35 p.m. on October 22, 2014 (EDT)
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Very sad. A person goes out to enjoy God's creation for the day and leaves his family grieving. It's a sobering reminder that our adventurous hobbies carry significant risk.

11:17 a.m. on October 23, 2014 (EDT)
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Climbers fall sometimes.

11:46 a.m. on October 23, 2014 (EDT)
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And he wasn't attached because he was either leading the first pitch or they were just starting?

8:22 p.m. on October 23, 2014 (EDT)
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He and his partner were approaching the Iron Messiah climb (5.10) over easy 5th slabs. Since they were on approach, they did not have their helmets on and were not yet roped up. One of those too-common situations where the approach is "hands in your pockets" easy, so complacency sets in. This year's ANAM has several incidents of that type that happen on easy approaches and descents (descents are worse, since you are usually pretty tired after a hard climb)

2:08 p.m. on October 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

(descents are worse, since you are usually pretty tired after a hard climb)

 I have read that most mountaineering accidents occur on the descent, because of complacency. A guy in my caving club has the saying, "Our goal is to reach the car, not the back of the cave."

2:42 p.m. on October 28, 2014 (EDT)
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Goose that's exactly correct. Making the summit is optional, returning home is mandatory.

February 22, 2020
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