Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Angels landing

Angels Landing in Zion National Park. NPS Photo.

A California woman died in a fall Sunday from the popular site in Zion National Park known as Angels Landing.

The victim, 55-year-old Nancy Maltez of Glendora, California, was reported to be hiking with family members early Sunday when she fell at about 8:30 a.m. The accident was reported by another hiker by cell phone.

She was believed to have stumbled and fallen from the north side of Angels Landing. Media reports indicate she fell a distance of about 1,000 feet, and search-and-rescue crews reached her body before noon.

The West Rim Trail from the Grotto to Scout Lookout, along with climbing routes on the north side of Angels Landing, are temporarily closed while an investigation by the park and the Washington County Sheriff's Department is completed.

There has been considerable discussion on theTraveler in recent months about the safety of the Angels Landing Trail. Prior to today's incident, the most recent fatal fall at that location was in 2007.

The park website includes the following information in a description of the Angels Landing Trail:

Caution: The route to Angels Landing involves travel along a steep, narrow ridge with support chains anchored intermittently along the route. Footing can be slippery even when the rock is dry Unevenly surfaced steps are cut into the rock with major cliff dropoffs adjacent. Keep off when it is wet, icy or thunderstorms are in the area. Plan to be off before dark. Younger children should skip this trail; older children must be closely supervised.

This accident will almost certainly revive the debate about the safety of the popular trail. According to the park website, "about 5 people" have died due to falls from Angels Landing in the 100 years since the park was established, but it is not the most dangerous trail in the park. Emerald Pools holds that unwelcome distinction with seven victims.

Comments

There have been 4 fatalities in the 6 years I've been associated with the Park. One teenage boy and 3 middle-aged people, 2 women and one man. I wonder about the "about 5" mentioned in the website.

Angel's Landing is a beautiful and exhilerating trail, but like any hike in any location, safety responsibility should rest on the shoulders of the hiker. The national parks can't be responsible for every fatality that happens in the park. I see irresponsible hikers all the time who think they can defy Mother Nature. Despite national park warnings, many people choose hikes beyond their skill level and cause accidents.

That said, not knowing whether this woman was skilled for this hike or not, I would say the only reason to reopen the debate over whether to close the Angel's Landing trail is to ensure that the NPS can more closely control the number and skill level of people on the path in the face of shrinking budgets and resources. If closer attention on the part of NPS becomes essential, then those who enjoy the parks will need to be squeezed onto fewer, less "dangerous" trails just so rangers can keep a tighter grip on people in the park and hopefully minimize the number of accidents. As a true lover of our country's natural spaces, I hope this doesn't happen.

This woman was my sister. She was an experienced hiker and she and her family had hiked this trail numerous times in the past. I am told it was one of their favorites. By all accounts she simply stumbled and fell. She was a very grounded person so I am sure there would have been no horseplay up there. I also believe that she would not want this place closed because of this.

Anonymous -

Thank you for your comments and insight into this tragic accident.

Please extend our condolences to other members of the family.

I was on the trail about 2 minutes before this woman and her family when it happened. It really freaked us out and I hope that they decide to make the trail more secure in the future. My condolences to the family

To the family who lost their loved one, My condolences.

I too wonder about the death stats on Zion's webpage. I have been going to Zion every summer since I was born and have been there for 4 deaths. One on Emerald pools, two on Angel's Landing, and I can't remember where the 4th was. The Park's number just seems too low to me, I think perhaps more have perished.

I do not think this trail however needs any modification. People obviously know the risk when they set out. If ANYTHING, a sign should be posted at the bottom of the hike that states the dates of each death. As the above woman stated, her sister had hiked this trail many times before. A stumble is a stumble. If you look statistically at how many people have hiked it, and how many have fallen to their death, I'm sure it is still much safer than a car ride. I do not think this is a proper outing for boyscout or other groups like it. Too many uncontrolled liabilities.

I too have hiked this hike many times, and well...I am pretty careful, but anything at any point can happen, and I take full responsibility of my own actions and the result of those actions. Other's should be expected to do the same, or don't hike at all.

To close Angels Landing would be just very wrong for the other millions of others who have successfully completed it, and those waiting to do so. Zion Forever! I

I was sorry to hear of this tragic accident. I live near the park and recently took the opportunity to take my 10 year old nephew, my 12 year old niece, (who live out of state) and my 9 year old daughter on this hike. We took the time to talk about the hike, what we would be doing. We had an adult per child and we discussed the dangers and the precautions we would take. (My nephew was working on a Webelos' scout badge.) It was shocking to see other hikers on the trail with no regard to their safety or that of others. There were some, probably early college, young men that were basically free running the trail. It was a disappointing example to those kids on the trail. I know that those kids left the trail that day with more respect for mother nature and a sense of accomplishment for what they had achieved. I hope that, in the future, those who seek to challenge themselves will have the respect that this hike deserves.

My condolences to the family and friends of Nancy. It is a tragedy to loose those whom we love.

Angels Landing is a very tough hike that should not be undertaken by those Angie describes above. Unfortunately, many who are unprepared make the climb; I rescued a dehydrated man who brought only 12 ounces of water on a 105 degree day.

Anonymous thinks the person whose life tragically ended would not want the trail closed. I agree with that sentiment, but hope the park can increase safety awareness to potential Angels Landing hikers. Preventative search and rescue could set up an entrance point at the trail head and provide safety talks and orientations.

As for the hike itself, I don't know how it can be made any safer without substantially altering the area. Ultimately, we must assume the risk should we choose to go.

My condolences to the family.

First, my condolences to the friends and family. It's never nice to lose someone even if they were doing what they loved at the time.

I've hiked this trail many times; it's one of my favorites anywhere. I would definitely not close it - - there are riskier trails in many parks, and you don't get to the dangerous part of this one without it being real obvious what you're in for. People do lots of dangerous things for fun; it's far safer to hike this trail than to do some of the X-games bike stunts I've seen. Tens of thousands of people have hiked Angel's Landing safely every year for decades.

Could the trail be improved or made safer? Yes, but I would only make minor changes. A few places could use chains that don't have them now, including some where the footing has become slipperier or looser over the years through hiker traffic, erosion or both. Some older, rustier, looser chains could be replaced. Taller or larger-footed hikers would benefit from a few chains where shorter people don't feel the need for them, and a few chain heights could be adjusted where they're currently not well suited for tall or short people. But I wouldn't turn it into a major project that closes the trail for a year while it's being done. And before undertaking any such project, I'd get input from more than just rangers, some of whom are excessively protective [as in JoAnna's comment, and unlike the ranger in our family].

Whether you are experienced or not, if you stumble it does not matter at that point. My sincere condolances to the family. Be strong.

I was hiking the morning this happened, you are warned about the skill level it takes to do this hike. There were many children on the hike ..It was a simple slip and fall, so you must be careful..all we need is MORE government telling us what we can and cannot do....

My wife and our two friends arrived at Scout's Landing about 45 minutes after her fall. We passed the family going back down on Walter's Wiggles but did not learn of the fall until we reached Scout's Landing. Needless to say, we did not continue up to Angel's Landing. Our heartfelt condolences goes out to Nancy and her family. This was truly a tragic accident. It made our group and many other hikers that morning keenly aware of how precious and fleeting life is.

I was there when it happened with about 8 others from my trek america group. the rock is really slick and sandy but still an easy trail. i lost footing once or twice myself and i can see how it would have happened. the worst thing was the family had to come back down. we were back from angels landing 10 minutes when other trek america members came running down saying what happened while a few others stayed behind.
condolences to the family. we had taken the free shuttle with them that morning. It's an terrible tragedy. there should be wardens on that trail. i was suprised at the single sign at the top stating that falls result in death and not much else.

We are so sorry to hear about this tragic accident, and send our condolences to this family. As avid hikers who value the unparalled access to nature that National Parks afford, we have a deep respect for Zion and other parks like it.......most of which harbor some intrinsic danger. Being "on the edge" of Nature has that inherent risk. I think the parks have the responsibility to educate all users on the possible dangers and risks, possibly even including details of recent accidents to drive home the points (as the story of the marathon hiker of the Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon did for me), but I would regret anyone deciding whether I thought these risks were worth taking. Part of what the National Parks stand for is preservation of Freedom, and it is a profound contribution to modern life that these spaces are free for us to roam--with care and respect.

My heart goes out to the the lady who just lost her life and to her love ones. Like me, when I enter our parks, I expect she was having a good time. Sadly she will have no more tales to tell future generations. Each summer we take our grandchildren on trips which include several national parks. We get up early every day and do a lot of hiking. As for myself, I have tried two times to "hike" out on Angel's Landing. I did not go very far the first time. I was, I thought, more prepared the second attempt. With me during our second trip were my husband and three grandchildren. On this second attempt when we arrived at Scout's Landing we stopped for awhile. I had the three kids sit down to talk with them. The eldest decided not to go at all. I told the two who would join me that if I said "stop" they must stop immediately. No questions. Stop right now. I told them if I said we would need to turn around, there would not be any discussion. I laid down the rules up front. We took off all extra gear such as fanny packs, emptied pockets if need be, removed extra jackets, removed our rain/sun hats, made sure are hiking boots were tied. When we started our "hike" I was extremely slow. The two kids could have been mountain goats but they helped each other and me. We arrived at one point on the trail. I peered left. The fall would be straight down. To the right if I missed a handhold or step there would be nothing to grab going down into Refrigerator Canyon or somewhere. I did not know where I would land if I slipped. I could just see what the consequences would be. I knew I had to turn back. If I got out all of the way I still had to come back. As it was, I was slow on the short return that I did have. I felt badly that I held others back but everyone on the trail that day was extremely courteous. In this situation this is as it should be. I have some amusing, luckily not life threatening, stories of getting misplaced in the Grand Canyon. I have slipped and fallen in less lethal places. Still, I would not want to close off options for others who are more capable than I am. I am now a great grandmother and hope to show my great grandson all that I can.

Having grown up in Glendora and hiked up Angel's Landing numerous times, I was especially moved by this tragic event. Although I never met the family while we lived in Glendora, I extend my condolences to them for their loss. I can only imaging the shock and horror they must have felt to have so suddenly lost their wife and mother.

My wife was quite apprehensive the next time I hiked Angel's Landing and asked me to be extra cautious. While hiking, I did note that I'd probably been somewhat cavalier on prior trips, and paid closer attention to areas that were especially exposed. I even held on to the chain a few times, which I usually ignore.

I also question the park statistic of 5 deaths on this trail, having heard of at least 2 in the past 5 years since moving to the area. But can we put things in perspective? Even if the park service has only recorded half the deaths, say 10 accidental deaths over a period of 75 years on an very exposed trail used by thousands of people every month has got to be one of the most amazing safety records in the history of the National Park system. In comparison, I'll bet any BLM ATV playground with similar usage racks up the same number of fatalities in a single season, often involving stupidity (alcohol, unsupervised children, lack of proper safety equipment) I don't hear demands that the BLM shut down all the off road vehicle areas or continuously police these areas to enforce safety regulations.

We blithely continue to drive our vehicles despite the tens of thousands of highway related deaths every year, mostly because we've put it in proper perspective and accept the relatively small risk as worth the benefits of driving. Should we close all the beaches forever because of the miniscule risk of shark attacks? Should we close all golf courses because of the increased chance of getting struck by lightening?

A fatal fall usually occurs due to a series of unlikely events, such as lack of attention followed by slipping and completely losing one's balance while in an unrecoverable position. Even the folks that run the trail for exercise are at a heightened level of awareness when surrounded by 1,500 sheer cliffs. I know a death under these circumstances connects with us at a gut level, and I'm not opposed to the reasonable precautions that are already being made to warn people what they're getting into. I think even without the signs the risks are clear enough. I tried taking my wife along once, and she could tell it was too much for her acrophobia before we got to the first switchback. Anyone who proceeds in the face of inclement weather or disregards even basic safety precautions is just oblivious. The risk of falling is right before your eyes! So please, no more requests to close this spectacular trail.

Angel's Landing, for me, was the most challenging experience of my life. Oddly enough, I didn't realize that I was afraid of heights. I was a high ropes director at a summer camp where I actually challenged teenagers to overcome their fears. I had no problem free falling from the platform 30 feet high, trusting that the guy on belay had taken out the right amount of slack. I had no problem leaning over the edge of the zip platform 70 feet high, while I was teathered in.

I climbed Angel's Landing on Good Friday in 2002. I will never forget seeing the last half mile of trail and taking a picture by the pine tree on top. I waited at least 20 minutes before I could muster up the nerve to commit. I remember the ledge close to the beginning. The chain was to my back against a wall. Your feet are barely inches from the sheer cliff taller than the Empire State Building. When people coming from the opposite direction needed to pass by, I held the chain with one hand, and grabbed a rock hold on the wall with the other. As I was holding on, allowing people to pass by, the fragile sandstone rock in my right hand actually broke off of the cliff and fell down the side. It was here that I had my first and only panic attack in my entire life. I literally had to tell myself to take deep breaths.

I continued on up the trail, amazed by the beauty of the canyon. When I got to the very top, the clouds began to thicken. Out of nowhere, it began to sleet. My hands were going numb. As I hurried back across the half mile of Angel's Landing, I remember looking down at my bloody hand that had been holding onto the chain while rubbing against the side of the cliff.

Again this was one of the greatest accomplishments (in terms of overcoming fear) in my life. I went skydiving 2 years later, it was a piece of cake for me compared to Angel's Landing. I'm still nervous with heights (when not in a harness) and the thought of doing it again terrifies me.

Maybe the signs could be a little more blunt, since people like me, don't realize they even have a fear of heights. Still, I knew the risk when I committed at that pine tree after Walter Wiggles. I knew full well where a stumble would lead. It was staring risk in the face and perserving through the fear that made Angel's Landing such a great accomplishment in my life. I still have the picture of me approaching the summit framed in my high school classroom. It is a constant reminder to press on.

To the family who lost their loved one, My very sincere condolences.

I just came back from Angel Landing hike. My opionion is that they should put in more chains; At least i can see one place there 's a gap.
People (including me) have problem of reaching the next chain.
If there 's not enough safety, then this hike should be closed! Safety first!

I hiked that trail in 1983 and made it most of the way, but my God, is that trail terrifying and dangerous!

I remember thinking at the time I was hiking it, "People have definitely died here".

And they have!

I am not surprised.

Another scary trail is the "Buckeye Camp Trail", on coastal HWY 1 in California,
right near the boundary of Monterrey County. There is a sign on the right & a parking area.

I agree with the recommendation for a few more strategically placed chains and the renovations stated above by PhotoHiker Bob. I have hiked many of the trails at Zions and stopped at Scouts Landing on the way to Angle's Landing. Having ascertained the situation prior to arriving at that point, then actually seeing the climb ahead of me, I decided it was not up to my "emotional/cognitive skill level." I had the physical skill but had hesitation and reservations about going out to the landing. This should be a consideration for all. It does not take just competence to make such a hike, but also clear-minded confidence. I don't mean brash confidence, but sound decision making capabilities based on the conditions, the mood, the feelings, the number of persons, and so-on. I too believe the statistics of deaths in the park may be a higher number, however, we cannot attribute all deaths to Angel's landing or Emerald Pools. I was hiking in the park this past spring when a death had occurred, but it was a rock climber on the sheer face of a cliff, with professional mountain gear and skills far exceeding that of any experienced hiker in the park. It happened by accident. It was sad, but was a fact of life, that even the most experienced climbers can incur an accident based upon circumstances beyond control. I would like to see greater safety measures undertaken on Angel's Landing. This would be beneficial for even those unforeseen circumstances which lead to an "accident." Sure we can all say that only experienced hikers should attempt the trail, or only those meeting certain criteria should be allowed to hike all the way. But it is the flukes in nature, the simple unforeseen circumstances that lead to death of even the most experienced and skillful of individuals. The perfect example is of the cliff climber who fell to his death. It would be great to just say he knew the risks and he was willing to take them. Yes, however, he was not on a popularized trail, well traveled and well worn by thousands of hikers every year. This needs to be considered. This cliff climber had all the proper gear necessary to make his climb as safe as it could be. Shouldn't this be the case for Angel's Landing? Make it as safe as it could be, then if an "accident" occurs, at least as fellow human beings, we can say all was done for safety, to eliminate or reduce the risk of death as far as is humanly possible. It lacks a true sense of compassion for fellow hikers to just say, "hike at your own risk"...."assume the risk of death if you should so desire." This is heartless and cold. Every type of outdoor recreational park, event, or activity that is sponsored (In this case by the Federal Government) should contain the safety amenities equal to the risks, and provided by that sponsor. Certain inherent risks are evident, but all attempts should be made to minimize these risks. If one wants to wander off the trail, or ski out of bounds in the back country, they assume the risk of death and the inherent liabilities. But trails and ski runs and river runs, etc., should all have the safety implements in place as far as is humanly possible. Tell me and I forget...Show me and I remember...Involve me and I learn. As a patron of this National Park, I would like to recommend the implementation of the safety upgrades mentioned by Photohiker Bob. My heartfelt condolences to the survivors of that woman who fell to her death.

I have loved this hike, I love Zion and hope that the park will not be closed because of this unfortunate accident. Even though safety first is a rule, it should not have a path, like a flat, easy walk. More chains are welcome as long as they are not in the way, but don't close it. If people have fallen, then put a warning, make sure people know. If you're afraid of falling, don't go.
Sorry to be like this.
My condolences to the families, their loss will not be forgotten.
Good luck out there!1

You are right to make that decision to turn back. Some of us are bolder than others, and it's important to know your limits. Stretching your boundaries is a good way to grow, but pushing to the point where you have real fears negates the reason for coming to the park--to have a good time. The Parks are great, but there's lots of places where you just DON'T want to play around

A woman fell today. I turned back to Scouts Landing after only going up 50ft when the hikers coming down reported it. Over the 4 hours we spent at Scout's, they had not recovered her body. Hard to think she is only the "sixth." Tragic for the people with her, not sure if they were family or friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Why people don´t use a harness? It´s easy ( you only need the harness, two snaps and two pieces of rope) and increases your safety almost 100%. If we hike Angels Landing at least my kid will wear it, though the chain is not continuous and for this use is better a steel cable than a chain...

I hiked the first part of Angels landing yesterday but then turned back after the first, shorter peak. The crowds were just out of hand. Right next to us was a group of maybe 40 boy scouts with only a handful of adults supervising. I was also shocked to see some small children on the trail.

Angels landing does not need expensive guards or permits. It needs some simple signs, with simple rules. No one under 16. No groups of more than 5. No passing without asking first. Another sign listing deaths to give people second thoughts about the trip if they're not up for it.

I hope to make it back on a less crowded day to make the attempt again. It certainly is one of the most beautiful and exceptional trails I've seen and should remain open for the informed adults who choose to make the trip.

i hiked angels landing in sept 2009 after travelling to zion from the uk,it was without doubt the most exiting hike i have done and would look forward to doing it again, it was so refreashing to be able to enjoy this adventure in your gorgeous park without been dictated to by some goverment official like we constantly are in the uk. I feel this hike has plenty warning notices, and any official interferance would distract greatly from the challenge of the hike.My sympathy of course goes to anyone who has lost a loved one on this hike,but there is no life without risk

I'm the son of Nancy Maltez, the woman who fell. In response to your comment of "irresponsible hikers," I just thought you should know that my family grew up on these trails. I'm only 15 and I've been on Angel's Landing about 8 times. My mother has traveled the world and has been to at least 15 national parks in the U.S. My mother was the most careful person and hiker. So don't make accusations you know nothing about. She was a great woman and how dare you say she was irresponsible. You know nothing about the circumstances and what happened there. You ONLY know what the media has told you. You have no right to make any assumptions.

I spend a considerable amount of time in rugged, remote areas and feel fairly comfortable making tough traverses, but I only made it halfway on the Angel's Landing trail before I turned around. That there aren't fatalities weekly is very surprising to me - I left the area as soon as possible so that I wouldn't have to see someone plunge off the side.

That there are any fatalities doesn't speak to people's irresponsibility in my opinion, rather, it speaks of the trail really pushing the limits of being safe at all. If one feels comfortable clamoring on the side of a cliff next to a 1000 foot drop without being tied in - have at it! It's completely absurd to me.

I just returned from my first visit to Zion. It was a free admission weekend in the park and the trails were very busy. 100's of people were on the last .5 mile part, including young children and even parents carrying young babies.

I am a young, fit, experienced hiker/climber. I took one look at the trail, felt a few strong wind gusts, and said to myself "no way". That trail is clearly only safe if you have climbing gear/harnesses to ensure fall protection.

As the previous poster said, I too am surprised there isn't weekly fatalities. I think the parks service should continue to leave the trail open but make it more clear that this trail is not for the average tourist. On the day I was there, the constant stream of people made it very easy to falsely believe that because so many people were on it, that it "must be safe".

@Dave - The trail up to Angels Landing is 100% man made, which I would argue is "official interferance [sic]" at its highest - heck, there are chains to hold on to! Everything in Zion Canyon is "dictated to by some goverment [sic] official"!! I would bet that it's partly that feeling of false security which leads people into risky situations in the first place.

If you want to try your hand at tackling a route that is truly untouched, you need experience... lots of experience.

Along the Kern river in Southern California, there are signs showing the current count of swimmers who have died there. I think this would be a great way to exemplify the danger at a place like Angels Landing.

I'm very sorry about your sister. I just returned from Angel's Landing. 2nd time there in 11 months. It's a little bit of Heaven on Earth.

I took the hike for the first time on Saturday (5-15-10) and loved it. There appeared to be condors a fair distance off. I decided to return the next day with binoculars. This time the condors flew right overhead. They were so amazing.

The first day on the trail there were a lot of very respectful and courteous people. The second day there were more large groups and more impatient youngsters - college age super heroes :) - I remember the attitude. One young dad had his baby on his back and was coming up at the front end of several groups, Several other groups were coming down. I got caught in the middle in the one area between chains, on a saddle that is the most exposed. Nobody was being courteous or tolerant and it ended up looking like I-5 just outside of LA. The dad decided to push through the strung out crowd of 25 hikers. Just as he got close to me he momentarily lost his balance as the baby pack shifted. He tilted back, but was able to stabilize himself. I was half ready to reach out and half ready to pull back. Had he fallen, I would have hated him for the rest of my life for putting me in that predicament. People just need to be more thoughtful no matter where they are hiking.

Day 2 I was definitely feeling spaghetti-legged, but enjoyed the trail. If you get the chance at least make it up to the base of the last ascent. It is an amazingly beautiful place in God's country.

My adult daughter and I just returned from Zion where we hiked up to Scout's Landing, then decided to trust our instincts and not go farther. I was horrified to see a dad instructing what looked to be a four-year-old on how to grasp the chains. It's one thing to make that decision for yourself and another to put a child in that position. Do the words "hazardous" and "treacherous" mean nothing?

We also saw a condor sitting in the pine at the top and watched a "nature lover" clap his hands to make it extend its wings, which it did as it took off. I think the rest of the people watching it were quite content to return its gaze.

I just returned from Zion and I am actually glad I did not read this page before going. My daughter and I climbed to the top of the Landing - and it was a fantastic experience. But there were moments during the climb when thoughts of "why" entered my head. In the end, I am happy to have completed the climb, but I echo the thoughts of many here about the dangers of the climb, the importance of care and consideration for others on the trail, and just plain common sense. Adding signs that clearly indicate each accidental death would certainly help with those that have a cavalier attitude. While most folks I saw on the trail were couteous, respectful and even concerned for others (inlcuding being worried about this old and overweight fellows huffing and puffin on the way up) there were a few ...to put it bluntly...idiots, that were determined to pass everyone that was slower than them, and refused to wait while others were passing. It was while encoutering these few individuals that I felt most concerned about my own safety.

On the way down, we passed a number of families heading up various lower sections of the trail (Walter's Wiggles, Refigerator Canyon) who aksed about what was ahead. We were happy to tell them and to even suggest that the final portion of the trail was more than some of the younger children and less experienced hikers should try to do. Unfortunately, in each case the gung ho family members insisted that all would make it. Hopefully they made better decisions when faced with the reality at the end of the Overlook.

The trail is physically demanding for those that are not everyday hikers/climbers. Both of us were excited about taking on the Narrows the following day, but during breakfast realized that we were still feeling the effects from the Angels climb and decided to take the day to rest instead. - Perhaps one of the most dangerous aspect of climbing to the Landing is that it comes at the end of a 2 mile very strenuous climb just to reach the Lookout - making the untrained very tired before even taking on the climb.

In my view the trail should definitely not be closed, but it would be helpful to make the dangers even more visible. I also think it owuld be good to put an age limit on anyone attempting the climb - no young children should be allowed on the Landing trail for their own safety and the safety of others.

dmack:
The trail is physically demanding for those that are not everyday hikers/climbers. Both of us were excited about taking on the Narrows the following day, but during breakfast realized that we were still feeling the effects from the Angels climb and decided to take the day to rest instead. - Perhaps one of the most dangerous aspect of climbing to the Landing is that it comes at the end of a 2 mile very strenuous climb just to reach the Lookout - making the untrained very tired before even taking on the climb.
I really didn't find it all that demanding to get up to Scout Lookout. As long as it was done early in the day, the temps were reasonable. However - I was doing this a couple of weeks into a trip where I had already done some extensive hiking at high altitude. Still - I wasn't exactly what one would call in superb shape or anything. I'd say anyone who is in reasonable shape doing regular hilly hikes (even at sea level) of 4-5 miles a week is probably in decent enough shape for Angels Landing. I considered the psychological aspects of exposure to falls to be the most difficult part (and I didn't think it was that terrifying compared to Half Dome).

I actually did Angels Landing and a half mile of the Narrows the same day, although I didn't start on the Narrows until about 5 PM.

"more government" created the park

I just returned from hiking Angels Landing yesterday 8-24-10. What an amazing experience.

Before I get into that, I must say I have a respect for the woman who fell and extend condolences to the family. The shock and loss must have been heartrending....

HIke Details

My ability:
I have hiked many mountains over 10,000 feet, have backpacked and camped in the outdoors, have done the Zion Narrows, etc. I have some ability to scramble/hike/whatever but I do not do any technical climbing. I am very aware of heights, although I don't think it's a phobia.

My physical condition:
Good/athletic

My preparation for the hike:
I searched youtube for videos, the internet for pictures and reviews, etc. I was also aware of the fatalities. Through all of that, I became overly cautious but I don't think that was a bad thing.

Hiking partners:
3 other guys - 2 helicopter pilots and another person like myself.

What happened:
One other guy had made the hike before. We all went up together. The person who had hiked this trail was pretty cavalier about the hike from the start but I made it clear to the group that I would only go as far as I was comfortable. I also reminded the group about their wives and children at home...

We started up the trail and it became pretty clear immediately where we were going and how we were going to get there. You gain elevation very, very quickly. The whole time I was concious of how it was working out for me. I was actually quite nervous. When we got to the top of Scout's Landing, I was very nervous, especially seeing the knife edge of a ridge that we would be moving along toward the top. I considered staying at Scout's Landing. While on all four, I peered over the ledge at Scout's Landing (most likely very close to where one woman fell). At that spot, the drop is straight down. I think it's a common spot for picknicking, pictures, etc. There is no chain or warning at that spot. I was very aware of things as I began to adjust to the height. Scout's is a very safe-feeling spot because it is quite flat and there is a lot of space to relax. There is even a bathroom up there. But it IS the spot to make your choice. If you continue from Scout's, you begin the exposure part of the hike. I was able to relax a bit and because I felt more (not less) sure-footed as the hike progressed, I continued further. Those with shakes, weak knees, sweaty palms, etc. would be far better off to stay at Scout's.

There were only few on the mountain, fortunately. This was at like 5pm or so. I used the chains at times and not at other times. I warned my buddies to pay attention to every step. Off one side is the 1200ft drop and off the other side is a slope and then a drop. If you just concentrate on the chains and think you will require them the entire hike, there will be spots were you might be petrified. There are some gaps in the chain lengths. There are at least two spots on the route to the top that are extremely exposed. The path is several to 4 or 5 feet wide but you know what's on either side.

We passed some college-age heroes with their girlfriends. One girl was sweating, bent over, probably nearly hyperventilating, obviously petrified of the hike, and her boyfriend kept moving her along to the top. NOT RECOMMENDED. Nobody needs to be a hero on that hike!

It is possible to pass but someone has to take the outside angle away from the chains. It's best to go when the traffic is least because I can see how "passing accidents" could occur.

The chains can move while people grasp them. This could be unconfortable if you need to always have a death grip on the chains. I think it's best to always concentrate on having 3 points of balanced contact and 1 hand on the chain if necessary as you hike. Balance and stability are paramount. You really don't want to stumble and you sure as hell don't want to trip. Slick shoes are not recommened. You need something that can grip erosive sandstone. Leave extra gear, packs, or loose clothing, etc. back at Scouts. My water bottle kept interfering. A CamelBack water pack is best.

The actual peak/summit is a lot larger than I expected and you really don't "feel" the sheer drops from the summit because it has a dome type slope. It feels way more confortable on the summit and the view is unlike anything you've seen. It definitely is an Angel's Landing. There is no way to describe the feeling up there.

By the time we summited and hung around, took some pictures, ect., my awareness of how high we were off the ground entirely left me. I was 100 percent comfortable and sure by that point and would love to have camped on the summit. Being so high up and exposed, the view just became all engulfing and I think the fear part of my brain shut off so that I could enjoy the view and the hike back down. Fear developed into confidence and respect and balance. I learned many things about myself on that hike, only one of which was that I really don't think anymore that I have a fear of heights, but that I have a very healthy respect of heights, exposure, and so forth.

I would love to share the hike with other friends, family, etc., but I am not dumb enough to believe that I can control all of the circumstances in others the same way I did for myself. I know for a fact that I know people who would have loved to try that hike with us but I also know that their abilities and fears were not suited for that type of hike.

My gut instinct is that this hike is indeed very dangerous to those who are unprepared or to those who do not know their limits and who refuse to work within reasonable bounds. I would NOT take a child on this hike. I would NOT take a baby on this hike. I would *NOT* take anyone who has any fear of heights on this hike. I would NOT take someone on this hike if that person doesn't have any ability/experience to scramble. I would NOT take someone on this hike who isn't aware of the risks or doesn't care about them. I would NOT take someone on this hike if they can get dizzy, exhausted, vertigo, etc. I would NOT go with any person or group who does not take the hike seriously. I would NOT do this hike at it's most busy/popular times. I would NOT do this hike in bad weather conditions.

There are a bunch of other reasons I wouldn't go also but there are a few good reasons I would go, and I did.

One thing that would have helped to instill more of a respect for this hike would be if the park posted a sign at the beginning and at Scout's Landing that stated the dates of the known fatalities. The could also put up some more chains near the sheer cliffs, including the one where the lady fell at Scout's (you'll see the area right away if you look for it). I don't think you need a permit to hike it but it would be good I think to give people more warnings about it. Then again, it's a bit distracting if you are hiking up a technical spot and there is a sign that freaks you out..... I think the park is trying to balance it out pretty fairly.

I wish people had more respect for it but sometimes, in the case of the lady who fell from Scout's, it can happen to any of us.

If a stumble can kill you then it is not a safe place for average hikers to be hiking. If the Park is unwilling to put in the necessary safeguards, then visitors should be encouraged to rope up. A compromise would be a cable that hikers can attach a prusik to.

A stumble can kill you on a sidewalk, a subway platform, or a bathtub, does that mean we should "rope up" to take a shower? I hiked this for the first time with my 14yr old Godson last month, and it was one of the coolest hikes I have ever done. Don't ruin it like so many other things have been ruined by over protecting everything. I think it is fine the way it is.

Accidents happen and that doesn't stop us from driving. A sign for people who have died there might get some people's attention and instill a bit of respect, like they have at the Grand Canyon telling the tale of an athlete who died there on the trail from unpreparedness. Respect for the trail and for other hikers are key. That, and in the immortal words of one dirty Harry Callahan, "A man's got to know his limitations".

But this woman, an experienced hiker(and therefore I'm certain a respectful one), did not die from lack of respect or being unprepared, she simply stumbled, and it could happen to any of us, on any hike. My condolences to the family.

I have hiked Angel's Landing many times. If you obey the signs that tell you not to go beyond a certain point that you should be just fine. Many people fall because they decide to go beyond the signs. What happened to this woman was a freak accident and my heart goes out to her family. When you go on the hike, bring lots of water, comfortable shoes, and obey all the signs. You will be just fine.

The comments about the hike up Angels Landing were very helpful to me. I visited Zion and was intrigued by the hike. I am afraid of heights, thus, even making it through Walters Wiggles would be a huge success for me. Trying to hike beyond Scouts would be unwise, and more accurately, impossible for me, but that's OK. We drove up Pikes Peak and were told by Rangers that every year they encounter stopped cars with a driver frozen in fear inside...that would be me beyond Scouts. I used to be afraid of speaking in front of groups, I took the Dale Carnegie Course, and now welcome speaking before groups of any size, but this fear (of heights) would be different. I appreciate the accurate assessments of this arduous ascent. And, wow, Zion is one of God's greatest creations! Gratefully, John

1) "I just returned from hiking Angels Landing yesterday 8-24-10. What an amazing experience."

Good job from anonymous poster for breaking it down in detail.

2)"A stumble can kill you on a sidewalk, a subway platform, or a bathtub, does that mean we should "rope up" to take a shower?"

Why do people continue to compare an activity like this to walking on a sidewalk or driving? 99.9% of all people who stumble and fall on a sidewalk will get up and walk away with a bruised body part and possibly a bruised ego.
100% of people who stumble and fall off Angel's Landing will die GUARANTEED.
Now, here's the biggest difference. Walking on a sidewalk, showering, driving and other everyday activities are fairly NECESSARY for most people to live their lives. Hiking up any trail, esp. a dangerous one liek this one, IS NOT . It's a choice.

Anonymous:
Why do people continue to compare an activity like this to walking on a sidewalk or driving? 99.9% of all people who stumble and fall on a sidewalk will get up and walk away with a bruised body part and possibly a bruised ego.
100% of people who stumble and fall off Angel's Landing will die GUARANTEED.
Not necessarily. There are some areas where there are ledges or bushes that could conceivably catch a fall. Or stumble and fall down without falling off. Granted there are a lot of exposed areas where one could die or suffer grave injury.

We just came back from Angels Landing. It's an breathtaking place to hike. I had my hiking boots and friend of mine had a pair of sneakers. He is afraid of heights and wisely and courageously decided not to continue to the summit. There are many basic things needs to be considered to hike the place like this one: Some people could get dizzy at high altitude. I would discourage kids younger than 16. Hiking boots highly recommended. Pure pressure - we need be able to say no if we don't feel up to it. this is more difficult with a group of kids. Lean to practice the 3-point contacts climbing method. Take your challenge game something else safer. I don't see any need for changes other than better warning signs or write-ups on the Zion newspaper. The Angels Landing is an privileged place. If we want to make the place as an unprivileged, we should have an elevator. (64 years old male with technical climbing experience). My condolences to the family.

In my opinion they should either get rid of the chains and make the hike more dangerous therefore less people would do it or instead of chains have cables like half dome does. The chains don't really allow you to tie yourself in safely and the gaps in the chains lead to undue risk. The Chains also provide a false sense of security and make the hike seem like someone has designed to be safe.

So either remove the chains or put cables all the way up. Both would lead to a safer hike.

Half Dome style cables wouldn't work. It's not a single hump like the 400 ft Half Dome climb, but a lot of little ridges. I found that a lot of the gaps where there aren't chains aren't so bad, but there are some chained areas that are scary.

I'm not even sure the NPS would consider building a brand new chain system. Most people would agree that the Half Dome chains wouldn't be installed today if they weren't already there.

"Not necessarily. There are some areas where there are ledges or bushes that could conceivably catch a fall. Or stumble and fall down without falling off. Granted there are a lot of exposed areas where one could die or suffer grave injury."

To clarify, I meant an 800 plus foot fall (which is probably the minimum at the last section of Angel's Landing) and it's extremely unlikely that any ledge or bush is going to save you if you fall 800 or more feet. The point stands though for people to stop comparing this to driving or walking on the sidewalk. Even if you went with the notion that an Angel's Landing hike is as necessary to living as walking on the sidewalk or driving, I'd bet the latter two activities are still much safer percentage wise.

Having hiked Angels landing before, it makes me feel very good to know that there are actually still hikes out there that the state or government has not regulated to the fullest and "Most safe" according to their saftey handbooks. Yes this was a tragic tragic event, and I feel deeply for the victim and her family, but to have such a beautiful and challenging hike/climb like angels landing closed off, or set with hand rails and over "Safe", would absolutely ruin the hike.

I have been on many many hikes in my time, and I still today cannot think of a hike that, without harnesses, is as exhilarating and exciting as this one. There were numerous times that I looked over the cliff, and though "Wow, I cant believe they let us hike this", which in my eyes is not a bad thing at all, it was a feeling of almost freedom and happiness that it was not regulated like everything else in the world. Please People, dont try to stop this hike, or "Make it safer", just do your research, and if you feel uncomfortable, please dont hike it, or take someone experienced with you; and if you are a parent, please explain to your kids the dangers, or wait until they are a bit older and understand the dangers.

This hike is one of he last great remaining hikes that make you remember it for years to come.

My wife and I just returned from Zion and we both hiked Angel's Landing. I always thought that I was comfortable with heights but this hike scared the heck out of me. There are consistently points throughout the final 1/2 mile or so where the slightest misstep or loss of balance will result in launching off. The hike is breathtakingly beautiful and exciting but, holy cow, it feels dangerous.

Re: Clayton
I'd say the most amazing safety record for any National Park is the 104 year record of NO deaths related to the Iconic Grand Canyon Mule Rides into the inner Canyon yet they reduced the rides by 75%.
Like so many here, my condolences to the family for their loss.