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Buckskin Gulch flooding

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by Ram, Mar 15, 2023.

  1. Ram


  2. Flapbag


    Hats off to the rescue folks.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Jenny and Taylor like this.
  3. Canyonero


    Alldredge said the men had entered the slot canyon on Friday and planned to finish Sunday night at Lees Ferry, the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

    According to the lone survivor, the men camped in the gulch on Friday and woke up Saturday to rapidly rising water.

    At some point during the day, "they were hit by an actual flash flood," Alldredge said.

    The three men were swept downstream. Two of them were eventually able to get out of the water and reunite. But they could not find the third person in their party. That man was later found deceased and his body recovered.

    At some point, the remaining two men split up, Alldredge said. One man was injured and could not go any further, he said. His partner said he would try to find help and return.

    A helicopter from the Utah Department of Public Safety spotted Smith, the lone survivor, Tuesday and pulled him out of the canyon. He gave search crews the approximate location of where he left his injured friend, Alldredge said. But when crews went to that area, he wasn't there.

    That man, whose body was recovered Wednesday, was found approximately 6 to 10 miles from where he was last seen, according to the lieutenant. Searchers were unsure Wednesday how the man ended up where he did, noting that there had not been any reports of a second flash flood, although the water was flowing higher than normal through the canyon, Alldredge said.

    Camped IN the gulch with rain in the forecast? There's only one spot IN the gulch safe from a flash flood and it's just before the confluence. There's only one place to get out of the gulch (middle trail) between the beginning and the end. I've camped in both places, but never IN the Gulch where a flood could reach me.

    Amazing any of them survived. Condolences to the families and the survivor. The survivor's guilt must be horrendous.
    Magnus Tveit and ratagonia like this.
  4. Canyonero


    Big write up in the New York Times with lots of detail:

    The days before the three hikers set off had been rainy, adding to a season of wet winter weather that had already spewed runoff into the canyon.

    “It was slow going for them,” he said.

    The hikers did not get very far that first night, and set up camp, he said. On Saturday morning, he said, they could hear the quickening sound of water.

    “Then they got hit with the flash flood,” he said, describing such floods as “horrible, violent events,” with water pushing forward between towering canyon walls.

    “You got a five-foot coming at you, and the walls are three feet wide,” he said. “Then you got a wall of water. There is nowhere to go. You go where the water takes you.”

    The rushing water had carried the hikers miles downstream, until at some point two of them clambered onto a bank, the official said. The men regrouped before pressing on to search for the missing hiker. One of the men had hurt his leg and said he could not go on, Lieutenant Alldredge said.

    “The other one got him situated and left him there to see if he could get help,” the lieutenant said, recounting what the man who had been rescued told the authorities. They were about ten miles into the canyon, he said, and “conditions were so bad. They were cold and beat up.”

    On Monday, when the search and rescue helicopter was launched, the rescuers started to spot signs that they were zeroing in on the hikers. Camping debris and a backpack were spotted. Using infrared equipment, rescuers detected a “glimpse of a body” a few miles from where the two had split up, the officer said.

    It was one of the hikers. He was alive, but “just spent. He was done. Out of energy. He was kind of leaning up against the side of a rock cliff,” the lieutenant said. “Then he kind of laid down, but he could wave his hand.”

    From the helicopter, the search team lowered a rescuer into the canyon, who was able to harness and hoist the hiker out. He was taken to the hospital, the spokesman said.

    Search teams also went in on foot, entering at a spot about halfway into Buckskin Gulch where there is access into the depths between its walls.

    One of them was Melanie Rader, a swift water rescue specialist. Wearing dry suits, they pressed at night through waist-deep, roiling water and quicksand, navigating logjams and calling the names of the missing men.

    It was so dark and remote on the floor of the 200-foot-deep canyon that they had to beam their flashlights onto its upper walls so their teams on the rim could keep track as they moved along, unseen.

    “The canyon had been flowing for over a month as a result of snowmelt,” she said. “It is really scary.”

    Late on Monday, they found the body of the second hiker from the group.

    On Tuesday morning, rescuers found scattered gear. On Wednesday there was another rainstorm, Lieutenant Alldredge said. The helicopter was unable to fly, but was kept ready for a safe break in conditions that would have enabled rescuers to lift off.

    When that break came, the rescuers went up, pursuing a tip they had received on Tuesday from a man who said he had seen a body.

    It was the body of the third hiker, on a patch of land in the middle of the Paria River, about three miles inside of Arizona, Lieutenant Alldredge said.

    “It will forever be a mystery to us how he got that far downstream,” he said. “We will never know.”

    I'm not even sure they got to Middle Trail that first day, nor that they even knew about it. But it sounds like that was their only hope. Scary rescue too. Drysuits, quicksand, darkness, and only lifeline is a rim team.
    darhawk, Jenny and ratagonia like this.
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