Hiker rescued by helicopter after fall in Zion National Park

Published: Sunday, Sept. 15 2013 11:40 a.m. MDT

"The Subway" is a slot canyon in Zion National Park that gets its name from its tunnel-shaped chamber.

Ed Timms, MCT

Enlarge photo»

SPRINGDALE, Washington County — A hiker stranded overnight after breaking his ankle in a fall in a slot canyon at Zion National Park was rescued by helicopter Sunday.

The 38-year-old man was taken by ambulance to an area hospital, park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said. He fell Saturday during the first rappel in the Left Fork of North Creek, a popular canyoneering route also known as the Subway.

The 911 call came in about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, but Baltrus said a flash flood warning forced rescuers, including park rangers and Washington County law enforcement, to hunker down near the top of the canyon until after 10 p.m.

Once the injured hiker was located about 10:45 p.m., rescuers stabilized him and decided to stay with him overnight because of his condition, Baltrus said.

Tackling the seven- to nine-hour route that requires navigating past boulders and obstacles and swimming in cold water on a day when storms were forecast not only put the hiker at risk, but also the rescue crew, she said.

"Luckily, the person wasn't hurt worse," Baltrus said. "But when you go into a slot canyon with a probability of flooding and a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, we can't send our rescue crews immediately right after you."

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