Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for August 22, 2013
Rappeler falls to death in Birch Hollow
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Monday, August 19, 2013, Kane County Dispatch received a call about a 19 year old female who had fallen about 120 feet on a rappel in Birch Hollow. A Kane County Deputy and a Utah State Park Ranger from the Coral Pink Sand Dunes responded to the area. After meeting with other members of the rappelling group, the park ranger hiked into where the female had fallen. When he arrived, he was able to verify that the individual had passed away from her injuries.
The victim, Shelby Collette Christensen, of West Jordan, Utah, was hiking and rappelling with four other individuals. Three others in the party had completed the rappel and were waiting at the bottom of the ledge. It appears that as Shelby began her descent, she got her hand trapped between the rope and rock ledge and let go. She then fell 120 feet to the bottom.
Kane County Search and Rescue was dispatched to the scene to aid in the recovery. The Utah Department of Public Safety Helicopter stationed in Cedar City was also used to lift the body from the canyon.
Birch Hollow is a popular rappelling destination with several rappels and several miles of hiking. The canyon is located about six miles north of Highway 9, just east of Zion National Park, and is accessed by the Northfork Road.
This is the third rappelling related accident in Birch Hollow this summer. The first two happened only one day apart at a different rappel in the canyon. Both resulted in injuries and required assistance of a joint technical rescue team from Kane County Search and Rescue, Zion National Park, and BLM to raise the individuals to an area where they could be removed from the canyon by a helicopter.