Man dies in popular Zion canyoneering route

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 7:33 p.m. MDT

"The Subway" is a slot canyon in Zion National Park that gets its name from its tunnel-shaped chamber. Nine hikers were found stranded there Tuesday night.

Ed Timms, MCT

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ZION NATIONAL PARK — A man died while rappelling in the popular Subway slot canyon Wednesday after his foot got caught and he was stuck hanging upside down overnight.

The man and his canyoneering partner were the final permitted group to descend into the canyon Tuesday and were unfamiliar with the route, according to a news release from Zion National Park.

The victim's name was not released Wednesday, pending notification of family. Zion's spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said the two men were from "out of town" but declined to elaborate.

Park officials said the man's canyoneering partner had descended the 12-foot to 15-foot rappel first and was unable to help from the ground. The partner went for help, but was unfamiliar with the exit route and was caught by darkness.

He was unable to place a call for help until 11:45 a.m. Wednesday. Ten people responded on the search and recovery call, according to the news release.

Park officials say this is the first death in the Subway in recent years, though rescues are frequent.

Zion's superintendent Jock Whitworth said the Subway's popularity masks its difficulty level.

"The nine-mile hike requires rappelling and ascending skills, extensive route finding experience and swimming through several cold and deep pools," Whitworth said. "Unfortunately, its location inside the wilderness also means that rescues are not always possible or timely enough."

McKenzie Romero Twitter: @McKenzieRomero

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