Grand Canyon hiker, 55, dies after attempting to hike from one rim to the other in a single day in 87F heat
A 55-year-old Virginia man died while attempting to hike from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other in a single day and in sweltering 87F heat.
Authorities confirmed that on September 9 at 1:55 p.m., they received an emergency call from a hiker in distress on the North Kaibab Trail.
The trail is about a mile south of Cottonwood Campground, which is the second leg of the “rim to rim” hike.
Shortly after the call, the hiker became unconscious and bystanders began CPR.
The National Park Service (NPS) search and rescue team rushed to the scene by helicopter, but despite using “advanced life support efforts,” their attempts to resuscitate the man were unsuccessful.
Authorities confirmed that on September 9 at 1:55 p.m. they received an emergency call from a hiker in distress on the North Kaibab Trail (pictured).
The victim was later identified as Ranjith Varma, 55, of Manassas, Virginia.
The Grand Canyon Communications Office confirmed that they were attempting to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim – also known as a “rim to rim” hike.
The National Park Foundation’s official website says a rim-to-rim hike is “a classic adventure,” but “it’s no walk in the park” and can have “catastrophic results.” if you are not prepared.
The strenuous hike is 24 miles long one way and the recommended route is from the North Kaibab Trail to the Bright Angel Trail – this usually takes between 12 and 15 hours.
Officials added that “in summer, temperatures on exposed portions of the trail can reach over 120°F (49°C) in the shade.
“Park rangers strongly advise against hiking the inner canyon during the heat of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“Please be aware that efforts to assist hikers may be delayed during the summer months due to limited staffing, number of rescue calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flight capacity during periods of extreme heat or bad weather.”
The trail where Varma was found is about a mile south of Cottonwood Campground, which is on the second leg of the “rim to rim” hike.
This week, Phoenix, Arizona, reached a new heat record after the mercury reached a balmy 110 F for 54 days this year. The photo shows a heat map of the area taken on September 9.
An investigation into Varma’s cause of death is being conducted by the NPS in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner – it has not yet been clarified whether the death was due to heat.
The high temperature Saturday was 87 degrees (30.5 Celsius) at Grand Canyon Airport, located about a 20-minute drive from the South Rim.
This comes after the southwestern United States was sweltered by a scorching heatwave during the summer months.
This week, Phoenix, Arizona hit a new heat record after the mercury reached a balmy 110F for 54 days this year.
Although America is not alone in suffering from the heat, last month was the hottest August on record worldwide, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
It is also the second warmest month measured, behind only July 2023.
In July, two female hikers died after hiking in Valley of Fire National Park in Nevada.
They represent just two of seven suspected heat-related deaths in U.S. national parks that occurred between June and August.
No previous year has recorded so many suspected heat-related deaths in national parks at the same time.