Grand Canyon Hiker Dies Near Cottonwood Campground During Rim-To-Rim Trek

By on September 12, 2023 0 120Views

On September 9 at approximately 1:55 p.m., the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received an emergency call of a hiker in distress on the North Kaibab Trail approximately one mile south of Cottonwood Campground. A short time later, the hiker became unresponsive and bystanders initiated CPR.

National Park Service (NPS) search and rescue personnel responded to the call via helicopter. Given the location, specialized helicopter maneuvers were employed to allow rangers to assume care of the hiker, initiating advance life support efforts.  Attempts to resuscitate the hiker were unsuccessful. The victim has been identified as 55-year-old, Ranjith Varma of Manassas, Virginia who was hiking from the South to North Rim (Rim-to-Rim) in a single day.

In the summer, temperatures on exposed parts of the trail can reach over 120°F (49 °C) in the shade. Park rangers strongly advise not hiking in the inner canyon during the heat of the day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Be aware that efforts to assist hikers may be delayed during the summer months due to limited staff, the number of rescue calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flying capability during periods of extreme heat or inclement weather.

It is a reminder, before heading down trail, hikers are strongly encouraged to read the Hiking Tips page and check the Backcountry Updates and Closures page for current information on inner canyon conditions.

An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the NPS in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner. No additional information is available at this time.