Andrew Arvig, a 31-year-old rock climber from Chesapeake, Va., was pronounced dead after being found in Utah’s Zion National Park suspended from a rope 260 feet above the ground.

Two others canyoneering near the park’s Emerald Pools were rescued after being stranded on a rock perch nearby. Their names were not released by authorities. The two survivors who were rescued used a cellphone to call in the emergency response team, but they were unable to save Andrew Arvig, according to NBC News.

Having difficulty rappelling in the canyon, Arvig missed a vital perch needed to anchor himself. Exiting Heaps Canyon, Andrew Arvig was supposed to land on the perch and anchor his rope so that he could rappel down. Tragically, after sliding right past it, he was unable to climb up the 20 feet back to the perch and was left suspended.

According to the Canyoneering USA website, Heaps Canyon is “unlike” any other canyon in Zion National Park, in that it demands technical difficulty, a strenuous journey, and the knowledge to escape perilous potholes.

“Heaps Canyon is a strenuous, challenging technical canyon with an approximate 3,000-foot descent,” Zion National Park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus explained. “It usually takes 12 to 20 hours to complete, consists of a number of rappels into cold water, and ends with a final 280-foot rappel to the Upper Emerald Pool area.”

The emergency rescue team is investigating what happened on the canyoneering trip to cause Andrew Arvig to miss the perch, but it is most likely a mistake made during the 300-foot-long rappel down to the Emerald Pools. Nonetheless, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and the National Park Service will continue to investigate Arvig’s cause of death.

The Upper and Middle Emerald Pools trails were closed while investigators surveyed the scene, but they have since reopened.

An observation point from the Heaps Canyon Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park, where Chesapeake native Andrew Arvig was canyoneering
An observation point from the Heaps Canyon Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park, where Chesapeake native Andrew Arvig was canyoneering. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The other two rock climbers had safely rappelled down the side of Heaps Canyon until it proved too difficult for them and they became stranded on the perch. They were able to use a pull-line to reach the perch, but Arvig reportedly was not unable to get to the same spot. The three of them came to the park together Sunday morning, and were progressing through the canyon fine until the fateful rappel.

“All of us at Zion National Park extend our sympathy to the Arvig family for their tragic loss,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, a superintendent for the Utah park.

According to Bradybaugh, over 30 rescuers responded to the emergency call, including a helicopter flown in from Grand Canyon National Park. They were joined by an additional Life Flight helicopter and crew from St. George, Utah, as well.

Back in 2015, a 24-year-old man from Los Vegas died on the same trail after falling over 100 feet, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Reporting in October, Zion National Park said that the 2021 season held a record number of rescues totaling over 160 separate incidents.

John Fiske Burg, a 79-year-old hiker reported missing for over five days in Zion National Park, was finally found last month and sent to the hospital for medical care. With record fatalities, the park is hoping to save every emergency response victim they can and improve both recovery methods and reaction time.

“We’ve had a total of five fatalities, just in the last four months,” chief ranger Daniel Fagergren told The Salt Lake Tribune. “So, it’s been one for the record books for sure.”

“Bring plenty of food, water, equipment and clothing — not just for the time you plan on being out there but for an emergency as well,” he offered as advice to future climbers at the Utah park. “You just never know.”