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 climbed AL last week. The entire park was amazingly beautiful. The views from AL were spectacular but they were from many other places as well. Without a doubt, there is adrenalin climbing AL. There are a few narrow places where extra caution is required but caution is recommended on pretty much the entire trail - an accidental loss of balance or trip, even by the most experienced and prepared people, can result in an undesirable fate.

I disagree with any suggestion that people who fall are necessarily acting foolishly - when coming down AL in several sections, I was mentally focussed, had proper hiking boots, not carrying too much, and all that was needed was for me to accidentally trip or lose my balance and I could have had an undesirable ending. Accidents happen to the most experienced and prepared.

Although all 5 non-suspicious deaths off AL are tragic, I'm surprised there haven't been more since the park was established - that's over many decades. I think the warnings were clear. Leave these places open. Every time we hop in a vehicle or cross a street, we're put in danger but I don't see anyone saying we should ban automobiles. I think the place should be closed in icy/snowy conditions and perhaps at night. I'm not sure about kids - in groups, it's not a good idea - too much peer pressure. Although kids tend to have more physical stamina than adults, they are also less conscious of danger and generally less responsible....and often act more foolishly when in groups. I wouldn't bring my young kid up there, but that's me. Carrying a young child in a pack up there is plain stupid.

I'd be more hesitant going up there in heavy tourist season. There are some sections where I'd want to be the only person going through them. I'm sure in summer there are far more people going up and down on many sections at the same time - I wouldn't want that. It wasn't bad when I was there.

Enjoy the place. It's amazing. Oh, if you notice any loose post or a problem with the chain, please report it to the park officials.

I climbed AL 2 weeks ago. Me and my girlfreid walked up to Scout's Lookout, where she decided to join me up to Angel's Landing. About 100 yards up the climb she got really scared and wanted te go back, and so she did. I felt OK and decided to go on and reached Angels Landing, where a fantastic view was to be seen.

The climb is potentially dangerous: a serious stumble or slip up there is very probably your last. Although there is a sign that warns you of danger and tells you it's at your own risk, in my opinion the Park guide and hiking trail explanations should emphasize the danger a bit more. Looking back, I still would have taken on the challenge if I was warned about the risk, but I know my girlfriend wouldn't have. And that's the problem: people who get scared and shaky up there are in a wrong place. It's dangerous for them and for others who pass them. It's unfair to them not to tell them about the risks: the experience for them is frightening and the risk is enlarged (try getting down with shaky legs and sweaty hands while scared already, not safe)

If you do want to go up there: be aware of the risk of falling down and show respct to nature. Do NOT underestimate the climb, be careful en calm. If you're not able to stay calm up there, don't do it. If you don't like heights , don't do it. If you're not physically fit enough to do it, don't. Keep in mind that accidents can happen and ask yourself if the experience of climbing up there is worth it to you. If it is (in my case: for me it was), have fun and don't rush it!

We just got back from a Memorial Day vacation in Zion. The highlight of the trip was trying to hike Angel's Landing. We are both experienced hikers, and got up early and made the hike up there.

People call Scout Lookout all sorts of names like Chicken point, etc ... but I am not sure that is true ... After climbing the first set of chains you get to another little plateau ... from which there is a 100 foot "connector" that gets you to the next big climb ... that 100' stretch is where you are looking down a +1000' cliff ... and if you look down Vertigo kicks in and you really chicken out!

Anyway, thats what happened to us ... we chickened out at the second little plateau. We sat there and watched hundreds of people go up and down ... including two people with infants strapped to their backs ... which is my big complaint ... its one thing to risk your own life ... its another to risk your child's life over a thrill.

We thought we would get up there early and beat the crowds ... but so did everyone. If I had a second complaint it would be that there were too many people up there for the type of trail. There was a lot of waiting to get around people with death grips on the chain ... which takes your focus off of what you are doing ... and you need to remain focused up there.

We'll go back and try it again ... but not during a holiday weekend ... maybe mid week when there are no crowds


I climbed AL about six years ago. I was at a conference in Las Vegas and made a trip out of it. I arrived alone and randomly selected this hike without knowledge of what it entails. Wow what a shock!!! I got to scouts lookout and nearly chickened out but then I saw older and fatter people decsending safely I got my courage to go up. I am so glad I did. What a spectacular experience!!! Now I discover that I randomly conquered one of the most beautiful and challenging climbs in the national parks. I am very satisfied with myself and my choice of hike. Just be cautious and courteous and you should be fine.

I'm really sorry to hear about your brother, Joni. I hope you're doing okay. I guess I haven't seen or talked to you in 33 years? Please stay safe.

I hiked Angel's Landing less than two weeks ago (July 2009). My boyfriend made it through the first short section of chains and decided to call it quits. I was determined and set out on my own. I nearly didn't make it to the top myself due to the combination of conditions - heat, fatigue and fear. Thanks to the encouragement from a young and energetic couple, I was able to conquer the challenge and make it all the way to the summit. An amazing thrill and accomplishment! What the hell was I thinking?!?!?! So very glad I made this hike but I won't take that chance again. Since returning home I have considered this hike quite a bit. I become anxious and nervous just thinking about it now. I commented there on the trail and I've told this to my family and friends - I am shocked the Park Service allows ANYONE to take this hike. However, I'm not sure the right thing to do would be to shut it down. This is an experience I will treasure my whole life. I do think that more explict sings that detail the danger and deaths that have occured there would be a smart addition. I am appalled to read in these posts that someone saw a parent on this trail with an infant on their back. That's something I simply couldn't watch! This hike is a serious undertaking. And, it's worth every treacherous step. Know your limits and respect gravity!

The NPS "allows" people to climb Mt. McKinley and El Capitan too. It is up to ANYONE and everyone to determine if it is for them.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

@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.

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.

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.