Angels Landing update
So my post on Outposts on Monday about stricter signage and possible permits and/or quotas after a recent death at Angels Landing in Zion National Park seems to have touched a nerve. More on that in a bit.
According to ranger and Zion National Park spokesman Ron Terry, Maltez didn't make it all the way to the summit, as was reported in some stories. She was hiking with her family and fell from a "saddle area," Terry told me, "not the low point of the saddle, but after it starts climbing again." When asked if this is the narrow unchained "neck" with steep dropoffs on either side, Terry said he was unsure, and said he also didn't know if the spot she fell from was chained. Terry also said that the death was the sixth one since 1987 from the Angels Landing Trail, and doesn't include the death of a climber on a climbing route on the sheer rock face, and another falling death from Scout Lookout, which is technically part of the West Rim Trail leading to the Angels Landing Trail. Part of the West Rim Trail is shown above. A press release was written the day of the accident but hasn't been posted on Zion's website.
As for Angels Landing restrictions, of course the trail should not be closed, or have a snack shop at the top (though hiking in 90-degree heat did make me see mirages of lemonade stands along the way). I do think some additional signage wouldn't hurt. It might send a signal to casual hikers and make them stop and think before proceeding.
Could stronger signage, similar to what's used at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, prevent accidents? Maybe, maybe not. As Terry told me, and many have commented, there are inherent risks on Angels Landing Trail, as there are on other trails at Zion. And hey, I'm not the only one to raise questions about safety at Angels Landing. For more discussion, check out the National Parks Traveler, which covered this very topic in 2007, the last time someone died there.
— Julie Sheer
Photos by Julie Sheer. Shown at right is a view of the Virgin River from the Angels Landing Trail.