Teen falls to death while attempting free solo climb in Utah state park: "Something went terribly wrong"

Elijah Baldwin was visiting the park with his family for a hike on Sunday afternoon when he wandered away and went climbing by himself in the Pioneer Names area


                            Teen falls to death while attempting free solo climb in Utah state park: "Something went terribly wrong"

The family of a 13-year-old boy from Iowa is in mourning after he died falling from a popular climbing spot in Snow Canyon State Park in Utah.

Reports have said that Elijah Baldwin from Farragut, Iowa, was visiting the park with his mother and two siblings for a hike on Sunday afternoon when he wandered away from their group and went climbing by himself in the Pioneer Names area.

Regan Wilson of the Utah State Parks told ABC News in a statement: "The 13-year-old was in a more advanced area, I would guess. He did make it to the top … on the way down, I think, is where the [difficulty] came."

Officials have said that the boy most likely fell 70 to 100 feet as he was climbing down. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Elijah Baldwin (Source: Hackett-Livingston Funeral Home)
Elijah Baldwin (Source: Hackett-Livingston Funeral Home)

Wilson then told ABC: "They could hear him yelling, saying that he needed some help." Deseret News reported that Baldwin had apparently been climbing up and down rock cliffs without the use of any climbing gear or protective equipment, known as "free solo".

Eugene Swalberg, who is a spokesperson for Utah State Parks, described Pioneer Names to KMA News as a popular area in the park for climbers.

He said: "The young man was free climbing. Something went terribly wrong — this young man fell, and then had injuries, and he died from those injuries suffered in the fall."

Baldwin was in the seventh grade at the Shenandoah Middle School. According to KMA News, school officials said that grief counselors would be available on campus to speak to the students as well as the staff.

Wilson told ABC News that Baldwin had loved climbing and that the family had been planning a trip to Zion National Park after the recent visit to Snow Canyon.

Snow Canyon State Park (Source: photophat/Wikimedia Commons)
Snow Canyon State Park (Source: photophat/Wikimedia Commons)

The Search and Rescue's High Angle search team, which is trained to be "more advanced" and are comfortable using ropes, harnesses and safety equipment, had to be summoned in order to recover the child's body due to the difficult terrain.

Officials for Utah State Parks expressed their condolences to the family in a statement. It read: "Our sympathy’s go out to his family at this very difficult time. Utah State Parks encourages visitors of all ages and abilities to enjoy the wonderful natural environment present in our parks. We also encourage them to take necessary precautions and to be familiar with their surroundings to help ensure a safe and enjoyable outing."