Tag Archives: canyoneering accident

Canyoneer Falls 150 Feet in Branch of Oak Creek Canyon

I hope Mr. McEntire emerges healthy and whole. 150 feet seems like an incredibly long way to fall, but a couple accidents over the past few years (a 100-foot free-fall in Pine Creek, a long “free-slide”in Englestead) have shown people can survive and even thrive after such dramatic incidents. Sliding (incredibly quickly) down a rope must be better than a free-fall, and sometimes a big, fat backpack can do incredible magic in softening a fall. Best wishes to Mike in his recovery. ***** Rescuers rappel eight times and swim three crossings to reach fallen canyoneer All 2400-feet of rappelling rope in service for high-profile rescue near Sedona, AZ Rescuers had to rappel eight times and swim three crossings to reach a fallen canyoneer in the West Fork area of Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, AZ. The Canyoneer was critically injured after falling 450 feet while rappelling on the afternoon of Saturday August 13, 2011. Although Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a report of the critically injured fall victim that afternoon, the remote and rugged canyon held onto its victim until the next day. It took over 36 hours for Coconino County Search and Rescue personnel — assisted by several other … Continue reading

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Technical Details and Background on Mildred Falls Incident

The Orange County Register published a nice piece today on Matthew Pack, the canyoneer who died Friday descending Mildred Falls. Reporter Greg Hardesty describes Pack as a young man who had found great inspiration in nature, adventure, and the West, and helps provide a very human context to the story of this tragedy. If you are following this story, I recommend reading¬†Harvesty’s article. ************************************************************** On the technical side, canyoneer Kirk Belles posted some information from the SAR team that rescued Pack. From the ACA forum: The drop is 350+ feet. Matt had tied two ropes together and fixed them to the anchor at the top. The ropes were not long enough to reach the bottom. There is another anchor 100 feet down that people use to break the rappel into pitches. Matt had passed this anchor and was over the lip and in a long free-hanging section. It appears he may have been rappelling off to one side and either did not know the second anchor was there or over-looked it. Matt had some gear on the rope, but it is unclear what type of gear it was. Speculation is that Matt realized his ropes would not reach the ground … Continue reading

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Fatal Canyoneering Accident in Mildred Falls, near San Diego

I’ve been following the story of 24-year-old canyoneer, Matthew Pack, from San Juan Capistrano, CA, whose body was spotted hanging limply in the middle of 400-ft Mildred Falls on Friday. Hikers spotted Pack’s body in the falls after hearing screaming. They called 911 for rescue, but helicopter rescue efforts were delayed Friday by the dangers surrounding the heavy waterfall flow. The next day, a San Diego SAR team was able to recover Pack’s body at 1 p.m. I have seen little in the forums regarding Pack’s trip plan, experience, or commentary on the accident, and I haven’t been to Mildred Falls, myself, so it’s difficult to speculate on what might have happened here. Seems like a rank beginner wouldn’t have the equipment or cojones to venture out to a canyon with a 400-ft drop on his own, though, so I’m guessing Pack had some experience under his belt. Why he went alone on such a big trip (500 feet of rope is a lot to carry on your own) with such strong water conditions (big flow, water temperature in the 30′s) poses some powerful questions. Mildred Falls is generally listed with a 4 A/B III rating, implying no flowing water; … Continue reading

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3 Men Caught in Spry Flash Flood

Most years, June and the early portion of July is bone-dry in Zion as temperatures creep from the 80s, to the 90s, and up into the 100s. Right around mid-July, however, the thunderstorm engines on the West Coast rev up and we see big, black, cumulus rollers come through almost every afternoon. This is “monsoon season” in Zion, a far cry from the namesake torrents of SE Asia, but still a major force to reckon with, especially if you are in a canyon environment. Desert News and KCSG television recently reported the story of three Las Vegas men who were caught in a flash flood in Spry Canyon last Saturday, June 24th. Evidently, all three of the men were washed over a 40-ft. drop, and two of the three washed over and additional 60-ft. drop. Fortunately, one of the guys was able to signal for help, and though details of injuries are unclear, it sounds like everyone was transported alive to the hospital to Las Vegas. Over the years, we’ve met very few people who were actually caught in the water/debris flow of a flash flood and lived to tell about it. The above stories provide sketches of the events, … Continue reading

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