Tragedy struck at the Grand Canyon over the weekend when a 55-year-old hiker from Virginia lost his life while attempting to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim in a single day. The hiker was identified as Ranjith Varma of Manassas. The route he was hiking is known to be challenging, spanning 21 miles and taking an estimated 12 to 15 hours to complete.
The incident occurred on Saturday afternoon when the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received an emergency call about a hiker in distress on the North Kaibab Trail, located about one mile south of Cottonwood Campground. Varma became unresponsive, and despite the efforts of bystanders and park rangers to resuscitate him, their attempts were unsuccessful.
Authorities have not confirmed if Varma's death was heat-related, but investigations are being conducted by both the Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner. The high temperature on the day of the incident reached 87 degrees at the Grand Canyon Airport, which is approximately a 20-minute drive from the South Rim.
Sadly, this is not the first time a hiker has lost their life at the Grand Canyon this year. In May, a 36-year-old woman from Indiana died while attempting to hike to the Colorado River and back in a day. She was found unconscious along the Bright Angel Trail. Additionally, in July, a 57-year-old woman passed away while on an eight-mile hike in the scorching triple-digit heat.
Park officials have repeatedly warned visitors about the extreme temperatures during the summer months, particularly on exposed parts of the trail, which can reach over 120 degrees. They strongly advise against hiking in the inner canyon between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. due to the high risk of heat-related illnesses. Furthermore, they announced that the response time for rescue calls may be delayed during summer due to limited staff, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flying capability in extreme heat or inclement weather.
The tragic death of Varma serves as a somber reminder of the dangers associated with hiking in intense heat. Just last month, a 34-year-old woman who went missing on a hike in Arizona was found dead, and authorities believe it was heat-related. As the investigation continues, it is essential for hikers to prioritize their safety and take necessary precautions when venturing into the Grand Canyon's challenging terrain, especially during the sweltering summer months.
themes: Virginia Arizona Indiana Colorado