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Two Rescues in Zion NP

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by Rick Demarest, Jul 31, 2018.

  1. Rick Demarest

    Rick Demarest

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    https://www.nationalparkstraveler.o...g-one-where-canyoneers-ignored-rangers-advice

    Two Rescues At Zion National Park, Including One Where Canyoneers Ignored Ranger's Advice

    By NPT Staff on July 31st, 2018

    A helicopter from Grand Canyon National Park had to fly to Zion National Park on Monday to rescue an injured canyoneer who was in a party that ignored the advice of rangers/NPS file

    It's one thing to have to be rescued by National Park Service rangers when fate doesn't go your way, but to need a rescue after you mocked and ignored a ranger's advice, well, that's pretty brazen-faced.

    But that's what happened Monday at Zion National Park, where rangers actually were called out on two search-and-rescue incidents in the Left Fork of North Creek, on a popular permitted route known as “The Subway”.

    "One group disregarded and mocked a ranger’s advice when they picked up their permit. The ranger recommended they bring a rope and multiple harnesses for at least one of the rappels, but the leader of the group, who had been there before, said that they could cross the log and find an easier way down," a park release said Tuesday. "When the ranger reported that the log was washed out last year and recommended the gear, the group dismissed the information and left.

    "Later, rangers received a report that a member of the group had a knee injury at the top of the last rappel," the release went on. "Since the log that made it easier to cross the creek was gone, members were making a 6-to-7 foot jump. One person had landed badly. A medic and two others responded and spent Monday night with the patient. A helicopter from the Grand Canyon was brought in for a short-haul operation Tuesday morning."

    The other incident involved a group that park rangers said made poor decisions, wore the wrong footwear, and lost the route several times.

    "After getting lost early in the day, they reached the Subway feature late Sunday night and spent an unexpected night in the canyon," the park reported. "In the morning, they got lost again, passing the exit route, and continuing downstream. At some point they decided to try to climb a cliff face to reach the road. When heat exhaustion set in, they activated their emergency locator and reported a heat related illness. SAR responders were able to locate the group. After administering fluids, rangers assisted the group back to the trailhead."

    Zion Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh urged park visitors to appreciate the settings they find themselves in.

    “Visitors need to take their safety seriously and act responsibly,” he said. “Park Rangers are here to advise and assist visitors planning challenging trips in the backcountry, but ultimately preparations and proper equipment is the visitor’s responsibility. Given the number of fires throughout the West and the assignment of aviation assets to them, it was fortunate that the Grand Canyon helicopter was able to respond quickly and that the first group had an emergency beacon, but that is not always the case. Please prepare carefully and plan ahead for unexpected events that might occur in this wonderful, but at times, unforgiving landscape.”

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  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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  3. GravityWins

    GravityWins

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    Your honor I would like to present exhibit A. For Exhibit B will consist of the notes made on their permit by the Wilderness Desk Ranger who noted: "Permittee claims knowledge of the route and will attempt sans gear."*

    I've personally seen people who I would consider to be ill-prepared attempt to get permits, sometimes the rangers are able dissuade them, other times the Rangers have to put up with the attitude displayed in the article. "It's one thing to have to be rescued by National Park Service rangers when fate doesn't go your way, but to need a rescue after you mocked and ignored a ranger's advice, well, that's pretty brazen-faced.

    I have found courtesy and humility at the backcountry desk never hurt, and often seem to speed up the permitting process. Instead of "yeah I've done that before" a simple "I last did that canyon 4 months ago, what condition changes are you aware of?" establishes some baseline canyon cred, while acknowledging the dynamic nature of canyons.

    Thanks to all those who participated in a rescue despite having their colleague and friends mocked and ignored. The Zion SAR is getting too much experience from parties lack of preparation.

    * Actual notation is not known.
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  4. Sutitan

    Sutitan

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    Can the rangers issuing the permits actually deny them? Its one thing to lie to a ranger to just get a permit, but to mock a ranger while he's giving you advice and openly displaying a lack of canyoneering knowledge seems like grounds to have a permit revoked. Its quite possibly a slippery slope (power tripping rangers revoking when they feel like it), but is the alternative better (SAR costs, SAR exposed to more risk, "canyoneer" becoming a threat to themselves and others in the canyon, etc)?
  5. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Difficult to deny is my guess.

    Exception might be if the park employee felt like the resource was going to be damaged or other visitors were going to be at some type of serious risk...but...dunno. My bet is its pretty rare even if the permittee is being a jackass.

    Funniest situation I saw was picking up and going through orientation to climb in Denali National Park. For Foraker and/or Denali, you need to apply for a permit well in advance of your trip. Then, you pick up the permit in person and go through an orientation.

    We were picking up our permit and chatting with the rangers, when, a Russian group shows up. No kiddin', dress shirts, penny loafers...nearly no standard cold weather/altitude type gear. The park was trying to talk them out of the trip, but, the leader kept assuring that they'd be ok. "Is no problem". Solution to inadequate footwear? "We put foot in plastic bag first...is no problem." And so on.

    We flew in with the group. They were hilarious. Soon as they hit the glacier the cigarettes and vodka came out. I'm guessing they didn't make it much above base camp but we didn't see them again. Fellers were havin' a good ol' time, though. Funny. And weird.
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  6. pyle762

    pyle762

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    I asked the Ranger if they were able to deny a permit, like if a group were to come in to pick up a permit and say that they did not have harnesses or gear and the ranger said they could not and could only try to explain the conditions and dissuade them from attempting it. No t sure in extreme cases though..."Yes, I would like to pick up my permit for Heaps today. A harness and rope? No, I'll be OK. Thanks!"
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018
  7. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Post YOUR experience of weirdness at the permit desk:
    (here's mine)
    1. arrogant lady not wanting to listen to the standard warning to get her Pine Creek permit: "I have done it before!"
    She and her husband and 2 young kids get hypothermic and almost drown:cold:, with no thermal protection or flotation of any kind, having been
    thru once years before when the canyon was dry.
    2. Enraged older 'gentleman' shouting at desk:mad:, blaming his group's failed subway attempt because the canyon entrance was
    "NOT PROPERLY MARKED!"

    :facepalm::facepalm:
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  8. Jman

    Jman

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    X2. The superintendent once said, and I paraphrase now, is “we cannot deny a person a permit; except in times of flash floods. Their (the rangers) purpose is to evaluate the party and recommend trip suggestions/adaptations, and to dissuade when necessary.


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  9. GravityWins

    GravityWins

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    I once was there at the desk 9-10am and watched a group of three try to get Subway permits for the same day. It was the offseason and there were permits open however it was raining, they were in flip flops, they admitted to no gear beyond cameras, and to having never done the route. Permit denied! They asked for canyon alternatives, the ranger said with a straight face, "I suggest you visit the mouth of the narrows."

    The group did manage to capture the entire encounter with the ranger using their selfie stick so they at least have that memory.
  10. Jman

    Jman

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    Here is what the SL tribune reported about issuing permits regarding the Keyhole Seven incident:

    “Under existing guidelines, rangers have two ways to prevent hikers from going into a canyon after they have reserved a permit: They can try to convince canyoneers that their plans are too risky, or, when flooding is imminent, they can deny a permit. The standard for permit refusal — a flash-flood warning by the National Weather Service (NWS) — is not, on its own, likely to keep all visitors out of the canyon when a storm hits. That's because flash floods, like the one that killed the group in Keyhole Canyon, often occur midday or later, after most canyoneers have picked up their permits.”




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  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    In the case of the family that asked for a Pine Creek permit, the ranger was able to convince them to do Keyhole first. From which they were rescued the next morning. The problem was that they did not realize that "swimming" meant the water was deeper than your shoulders, which would have proved difficult with the baby... as in, baby in arms.

    They were cited, and a keyhole rescue is soooo much easier than a Pine Creek rescue.

    Tom
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  12. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I've got a sore neck from shaking my head after reading all this...

    Yes, they can! Happened to me and my group on a trip to ZNP way back when.

    We had too many for the canyon and had split up into two groups with permits for each. I naively disclosed we had two groups scheduled to do PC that day, thinking we were actually following the rules by staying under the max allowed/permit and not sneaking in a couple of spares.

    Ranger asks, "You know each other then?"
    Me, "Yes".
    Ranger, "Then I will revoke one of your permits. That's a violation of the rules!" (pointing to said rule)
    (long awkward pause...and me trying to keep from blowing a gasket.)
    (After making a disparaging comment about the rule's syntax that I probably shouldn't have made...)

    Me,"Alright then. Can we put as many of group 2 on this permit till we max out? The others will have to find something else to do."
    Ranger, (another pause) "Okay, but it's a clear violation and I could cancel both permits." (To this day I do remember the stern facial look. Similar to the times your mother wanted to know why you were out so late and your response was less than believable.)

    Moral, "Gotta play by the rules." (I continue to struggle with that.)
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  13. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Second guy in line at the permit desk at 07:00 “I’d like 21 for the subway today”.

    He expected that since he was first in line he had first crack at the permits for the day. After putting palm through his own face, The ranger said he could apply for the lottery and hope to get a permit for 3 months out.
  14. GravityWins

    GravityWins

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    Letter to the editor: https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/a...ere-is-another-side-to-the-zion-subway-story/

    Letter to the Editor: Mocking or not, there is another side to the Zion Subway story
    Written by Letter to the Editor
    August 3, 2018

    [​IMG]
    Composite stock image, St. George News

    OPINION — I wanted to share a different opinion about The Subway hike from the article that was written this week.

    Read more: Zion National Park visitors rescued after mocking rangers, hiking The Subway unprepared

    I was also hiking The Subway Monday morning also with a group of six people. I have hiked the canyon many times over the years and was excited to take a new group of people to see this beautiful place. I called the back country station in Zion and got little help of the exact conditions in the canyon, I was worried about the flooding from a couple of weeks ago.

    We had a very hard time finding the trail to get us into the canyon

    We hit the trailhead at 7 a.m. and we were on our way. It was a beautiful morning. There were a few cairns (rocks that help point you in the right direction), but we had a very hard time finding the trail to get us into the canyon.

    My first point is that with this popular hike, Zion should have the trail marked better. Second, my group did have rope and plenty of supplies, but when we arrived at the place where the lady was hurt we too had to make the decision to jump over to the other side and do an easy climb down or do the more difficult rappel.

    We decided to jump to help one person in our group who was worried about the longer rappel.

    The ranger never did tell me about this section of the trail and that the log was gone

    Once again the ranger never did tell me about this section of the trail and that the log was gone that people have used for last 30 years. My purpose in this email is to let you know there is another side to the story. The trail is an absolute mess and hard to find, the park needs to make a few improvements to make this hike more safe. (Fix the spot where everyone jumps now).

    We never saw this other group that got hurt or lost, or we would have been glad to help them navigate the canyon.

    One last note: I was hiking The Subway about eight years ago and there was a decent trail to follow. There were some workers from the park that were blocking the old trails and forcing you to pick a new one. This made no sense to me if they were trying to keep this trail so pristine, all it did was make it harder to navigate and destroy the vegetation with trails going every which way.

    I think there needs to be some better input to make these trails better for everyone. Some people live right here and will never get the chance to see these places because you now have to draw a permit and the trails are a mess. So much for raising our fees to see the national parks.

    Submitted by MICHAEL WILLIAMS, Nephi, Utah.
  15. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Yikes.
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  16. Rick Demarest

    Rick Demarest

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    Not sure I'd title that letter "another side to the story". Maybe something along the lines of "There's way more incompetent people attempting the Subway than you could ever imagine".
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  17. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    There were like, way too many choices. I thought it'd be like...footlong or six-inch? White or wheat?

    Snark aside, I'm grateful that this letter was written and published. It provides a rare glimpse into the mind of an ex-community canyoneer. It would be great to reach out to the letter writer - anyone know this person?

    @Rapterman http://canyoncollective.com/threads/pictures-thread.21755/#post-104505
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
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  18. Jman

    Jman

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    Just wanted to emphasis a few points by the author. He is all over the place! And I’m glad the NP publicly called out these two groups. Accountability needs to happen often and without hesitation.

    Where to begin...

    1) “many times over the years”? Ya sure about that son? I did it for my 27th time two weeks ago and still see the exact same path that we took during the 1st time. The canyon isn’t hard to find, especially for one who has done it “many times”. Sure if you aren’t leading and you are tagging along, talking to other friends, not paying attention - that I can understand of not knowing where to go. But for a trip leader to say it’s difficult, again, after many times...come on. Show some personal accountability.

    2) “my group did have rope and supplies”? First, who says “supplies”? I believe that they did have a rope but I also believe that they used this rope as a handline in the past and NOT as a rappel rope.

    My assumption is that they had no idea how to setup that rappel or at the very least, know how to rappel that “difficult” rappel. The author is trying to persuade me that he is confident, but by dissecting his own analysis of his trip, he is blaming his own ineptitude on the park and not himself. And why do they? Why say anything at all? Perhaps a friend of the group masking as a 3rd party stranger?

    “My group did have rope and supplies...but we opted not use them due to us not knowing how to rappel and just assumed the park would make it safe for us” is it how it should be read.

    3) and make it “safer”? I’m assuming by adding a bridge across it or by adding a ladder so that you can climb down? This isn’t Antelope Canyon. You are the big boy who got the permit, paid adult money for it, knows that subway conditions change throughout the years especially since you have done it “many times”.

    4) your group was the not the one that got injured so why respond and blame the park?




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  19. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Well said, Jman.
    Hey- I have bumbled a few canyon approaches, then figured it out.
    Sometimes, them maps and GPS thingies come in handy...
    Would never to think to blame the park.
    (can someone please re-post that awesome picture of the subway in the subway...keep those hardy adventurers
    from runnin outa gas)
    :D
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  20. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    Via ferrata, obviously. I know just the folks for this ;)

    On a personal note, you've got me beat for the Subway, but I'm getting there. 17 times from the top is my count. Haven't gotten lost yet myself. Not even the first time when it was the second technical canyon I had ever led. Seriously, this letter can basically be summed up as "The world owes ME!"
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