On April 29th, 2016 at approximately 8:00pm, Rangers were notified by park dispatch of a possible rescue on the wall near Weeping Rock.The group was comprised of five individuals with mixed levels of experience.Three had substantial experience canyoneering in Zion National Park and two had never attempted a canyon in the park and were new to canyoneering.The reporting party stated the group was going to self-rescue.Rangers responded and found that a party of canyoneers had reportedly damaged their rope and did not have the required length of rope in order to perform the last rappel.
Rangers found an individual at Weeping Rock that the party had texted and left a voice message for to bring in another rope. The group had not confirmed that their friend was bringing an extra rope before the party lost cell phone coverage by descending further into the canyon. The friend did not believe he had brought the correct length of rope.When the party arrived at the top of the last rappel at approximately 12:15am on April 30th, Rangers were able to send a 600 foot rope up to the party by tying it to the damaged rope and having the party hoist it up.The party was able to complete the last rappel with the 600' rope.
The party claimed their rope had been not been damaged before they entered the canyon.
DECISIONS MADE BY PERMITTED PARTY IMPACTING THE SITUATION
The party departed the trailhead at approximately 3:00pm. They were attempting Observation Point Canyon which is listed to take 6.5 to 9 hours to complete according to www.canyoneeringusa.com .The sun was setting at approximately 8:15pm. This gave the party less than 6 hours to complete the canyon before dark with two individuals with very little to no experience.
The weather forecast called for 30% chance of rain on April 29th and the night of the 29th was expected to produce an 80% chance of rain.The prediction for April 30th was also an 80% chance of rain which improved slightly that night and the next day;70% and 60%, respectively.
Observation Point Canyon is rated as 4 A/B III.This means the canyon is likely to be wet after substantial rain.It rained approximately ½ inch in the three days prior to the party entering the canyon.The party did not bring cold water protection of any kind and reported being cold due to very cold pools that required swimming to pass.