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Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing


    Climb to the top of Angel's Landing in Zion National Park and you'll have an incredible view of Zion Canyon and the surrounding cliffs. You'll also risk a spell of vertigo if you get too near the edge and glance into the void.
    In fact, reaching the top of the landing can be unnerving at times as you have to climb up some steep, and narrow, stretches of rock. The Park Service is well aware of the exposure on these sections and has anchored heavy chains into the most precarious spots so you have something to hang onto.
    Over the years five people have died in falls from Angel's Landing....the most recent death occurred yesterday morning with a 29-year-old Las Vegas woman fell 1,200 feet to her death. No word just yet on how Bernadette Vander Meer came to fall off the cliff.


I went to Angel's Landing yesterday with my mom, dad, and older sister, who is 20. (I'm 15) We all made it to scout lookout fine, and we all started up the chains. I got probably 1/4th the way, looked down and realized my mom was having a hard time managing the height and the drop off. It freaked me out a bit too. So, I turned around when my mom said she was. I didnt want to leave her alone to worry about us. My dad and sister did the entire thing and said it was amazing. If we ever go again, I'm doing the entire thing for sure!
I think that your life is your own responsibility, and you need to make sure you make the smartest choices. Most of the people that have fallen from Angel's Landing made dumb choices, like goofing off to close to the edge, or not wearing proper shoes. Just take your life in your own hands, the park cant do anything to save you.

While this string of comments is getting stale, I'm contributing to it because the subject is still fresh and will likely be continually debated for years to come.  I also think my unique experience brings a different insight.  I am not only an expert hiker, but also an expert mountain climber, skier, and though not an expert at rock climbing, have done multiple pitches in the 5.10 area, including a few leads, though all the tougher ones were sport climbs.  I have logged over 6,000 miles of long distance backpacking, done almost every 14er in the US, many on skis in the winter, mountain climbed in Alaska, Chile, Argentina, and in Europe, and currently have trips planned for Antartica and Island Peak near Everest.  Many of these trips I also hope to do later with my two daughters, 8 and 6, who are also avid and experienced rock climbers for their ages.  That said, and with all my experience, I have tried to think of a sensible way to allow them to hike this with me and I see no safe way, short of the trail being closed to other climbers and all of us being not only roped, but on belay.  I honestly wasn't scared of the climb, but was petrified that someone else was going to take me out.  I have thought of putting my girls on belay, something they are very accustomed to, but the impedement it creates for others makes this impratical.   I therefore think this is no place for young kids, either on foot or on someones back.  As an aside, I noticed a post where someone roped their child to themself.  While this may seem like a safe method, this can actually prove more dangerous than without ropes, unless the parent is also attached to the mountain.  Finally, while I may have earned my nickname from pulling off some rather crazy stunts, including hauling a keg to the top of some rather large mountains, that doesn't mean that I'm not always thinking about safety.  I even wisely refrained from carrying one up AL.  That said, I also don't think the wilderness, including our national park trail system, is any place for government regulation, accept as may be necessary to protect the wilderness from humans.  I therefore see no reason to require the use of water.  I for one hiked over 6 miles from a campsite west of Scout's Lookout in 90 degree heat with a full pack without drinking any of my water.  That is just me.  I doubt I would have needed any from the valley without a pack.  As to shoes, I know of someone who hiked long distance trails bairfoot, and while I think they were crazy, they probably thought my keg was even dumber.  As to common sense, well, this to me seems to be the problem.  The continual discourse on warning signs, regulations, rangers controlling who climbs, etc., to me is why nobody has any common sense anymore.  We are now trained to think that everything we do in life is safe unless someone blasts mutliple warning labels or makes us sign a waiver, and even then typically disregard those warnings.  Our wilderness is the only place left in this country where you can go and get away from this.  Don't take that last bastion away!  I'm sorry for those who lost friends or relatives on this great trail, especially the daughter.  It seems from the discussion that all were well equipped and prepared.  I can't think of anything worse, except, perhaps, if those tragedies lead to the closing of AL or similar trails, at the likes of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or others. 

@Globetrekker: Kids are great. They can do so much more than many adults believe. And you are not the parents of this kids and you don't know what they can do and can't do. I have seen 5 years old who could do Angels Landing and I've seen men in their 20s and 30s who should not even think of it.

I have never heard of any kid, having an accident on this hike, so obviously the parents do know better than you. The most dangerous part of a trip to Zion and the hike to Angels Landing is driving to the park. Please worry there.

The hike can be done safely if you know yourself, your abilities, are fit, adapted to the elevation, are prepared for the climate of Utah's Canyons and so on. And you need to know how to assess those conditions and when to turn back, if the conditions are not safe.

I've seen it all. But one thing I never get used to are the IDIOT parents...e.g. negligent and abusive parents...whose selfishness to want to conquer Angel's Landing overrides being a good role model by carting small children and young teens 1500 feet up on that ridge. No GOOD parent would ever do that. And it does NOT make little Johnny a MAN to force him to go along. Besides that, kids freaking out in that terrain puts others at risk. It's not a carnival ride. It's not funny. It's not fun for them. It's not a learning experience. It's the parents' selfish desires ending up as child abuse that puts other responsible hikers in danger.

I did the Angel's Landing trail yesterday but stopped at the chains. I actually got to the third chain and decided that I wasn't going to be comfortable with it and backed down. No shame in that. In the park brochures there are plenty of warnings about being properly prepared for this and all the other hikes as well as warnings for people that have trouble with heights and balance. And before the chains there are signs about steep and dangerous terrain. It is obvious not everyone takes that seriously. As for the trail leading up to the chains - take plenty of water, a walking stick doesn't hurt, and take your time. There is nothing technical there and tennis shoes worked fine for me. And, if you just want that extra height, continue on the trail up to the springs. You'll reach a point where you are looking straight across at the people on Angel's Landing - no chains required.

It was triumphant indeed. I was just there Friday, Oct 9, 2009. I am 54 years old women who is afraid of heights, but Angels Landing did not stop me. It was beautiful and I want to thank my bestfriend for his support or I wouldn't have made it. As a reward he got me the T-shirt, I Hiked Angels Landing. Good luck to you all.

It amazes me that there are people who believe there should be "signs", fences , gates, anchored safety lines, etc.... to warn of danger. Humans evolved as a result of the ability to properly react to danger, adapt and survive. The "safety nets" are a recent addition to the world. If a person can't recognize the danger, can't, or won't, acknowledge their own limitations, and continues beyond their ability to cope with the situation, there are consequences. One must be willing to accept those consequences. However, thought also needs to be given to causing others to put themselves at risk to rescue, or recover, your unfortunate rear-end. Quit posting signs. Quit placing aids to navigation (i.e. anchored lines) and lets get back to insisting people exercise personal responsibility for success, or failure. Too many "aids" and signs give too many unqualified people access to areas they shouldn't be in. Not everybody should go everywhere. What makes a risk "reasonable" is proper preparation and skill development. If you don't prepare, don't blame others for not putting a sign up. It's your own fault. Own it, and remember, there's somebody at home that will miss you. So get out there, enjoy, explore and push the limits, within your limits.

I was there last month and people were hiking the trail with really young kids and flip flops. Not too smart. I didn't do it although I've hiked it 2 previous times and didn't feel like I needed the adrenaline rush this time plus maybe I'm getting old. I wanted to make 2 points specifically about Angel's Landing: (1) It's a little dangerous but most technical climbing gives people more exposure. On the A.L. trail, You have a foot or two between you and the edge and there really is no reason to fear falling except if its icy in the wintertime and I believe they close it then. The foot or two in the narrow parts doesn't seem like a lot to me when I'm hiking it but if you are careful you will be OK. My second point (2) is that Angel's Landing is the parks most famous trail but if you want beautiful hiking and views of the park without quite the extreme drop-off do the West Rim and / or Observation Point (unless you are in great shape probably not both in the same day). I've hiked all over the country and these 2 are close to the top on my list of all time favorite hikes.

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