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Two backcountry accidents kept park rangers busy at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Sunday, June 22. Ranger Brent Mims witnessed 22 year old Daniel Dalton from Centennial, Colorado fall 20 feet while patrolling S.O.B. Gully on the North Rim of the canyon. Dalton had been attempting to climb the Casual Route when he fell at about 9:30 am. He suffered multiple injuries to the face, head, hands and arms including abrasions and bruises.
Dalton's partner lowered him down to a ledge where Mims had set up a 75 foot traverse. From there, the two lowered him to the bottom of the gully and Dalton and his partner hiked to the rim of the canyon under their own power. The Casual Route is an introductory climb in Black Canyon, and ascends about 800 feet to the rim.
JoAnne White from Silver Point, Tennessee fell 30 feet down a talus slope on the Gunnison Route on the South Rim of the canyon during the late afternoon, June 21st. She received a head injury from the fall nearly two thirds of the way down into the canyon. White and her party descended to the river to camp and two of them hiked out to report the accident late on the morning of the 22nd.
Rangers responded to the river to provide emergency assistance, and due to the nature of her injury ordered a helicopter flight out of the canyon. The helicopter, from Durango, arrived late in the afternoon and White was flown to Montrose Memorial Hospital at 6:00 pm.
The Gunnison Route is one of seven backcountry hikes in the canyon that lead to the river. It descends 1,800 feet from the rim down steep slopes and across loose rubble of rock called talus or scree.