Deceased climber identified; 4th fatality in Zion this year

SPRINGDALE – Zion National Park has released the name of a rock climber who died Sunday while recreating in the park.

Christopher H. Spencer, age 47 and a resident of San Jose, California, died Sunday afternoon after a fall while rock climbing in Zion National Park. The cause of the incident is currently under investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in cooperation with the National Park Service, according to a press release from Zion National Park.

Spencer and a fellow climber were starting the climb of Iron Messiah, a technical 5.10 climb in Zion Canyon. The pair was on an approach pitch in easy fifth-class terrain when Spencer apparently fell backward, tumbling approximately 80 feet down the steep slope and striking a series of ledges. Spencer was not roped in and was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Rangers were notified of the accident at approximately 11 a.m. and park medics reached Spencer by noon, according to the press release. Responding medics and a requested Life Flight medical crew stabilized Spencer during the almost three hour-technical evacuation. Spencer was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.

This is the fourth fatal accident to occur in Zion National Park so far this year and the eighth climbing fatality since 1983.

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