Hurd was in a party of four individuals on the Northeast Buttress route, a popular climbing route below Angels Landing. The group was traveling in pairs and Hurd and his partner were following the other pair up the route. Hurd was leading the fifth pitch when he fell over 40 feet onto a ledge pulling his top piece of protection out. His partner witnessed the fall and called 911 before providing medical care to Hurd. 20 members of the Zion Search and Rescue Team responded. When Park Medics reached the ledge, they confirmed that Hurd had not survived his injuries. The SAR team worked through the night to evacuate the body and investigate the fall.
Located below Angels Landing, the Northeast Buttress is an eight pitch big wall climb that is rated at IV 5.10+. This was Hurd’s first time climbing this particular route although he was an experienced climber and had completed several big wall climbs previously in Zion National Park.
This is the second fatal accident in the park for 2012 and the seventh climbing fatality since 1983. “Very sad,” said Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth, “Our condolences go out to his friends and family.”