GCU student critical after Echo Canyon fall

Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 12:31:31-04

A Grand Canyon University student remains in extremely critical condition after she fell 60-100 feet at Camelback Mountain's Echo Canyon trail Wednesday.

“Our hearts just stop,” said Park Ranger Mark Sirota. “What can I do? How fast can we do it?”

Sirota was actually answering questions for hikers, when he spotted the group climbing the face of the mountain. They had no ropes and no harnesses.

Sirota watched in horror as the woman fell to the ground. “It's never easy to see that,” said Sirota. “It's so heart wrenching for the entire family.”

Unconscious, but breathing, the woman in her 20's was rushed to the hospital.

The woman was doing what rock climbing experts call "solo climbing."

It’s not allowed at most rock climbing gyms because it is so dangerous to go up high with no gear.

“Climbing is inherently dangerous, and we would never recommend to go anywhere, indoor or out without proper training,” said Erin Orwig with Phoenix Rock Gym in Tempe.

Training comes in handy for other types of climbing with bolts, anchors and ropes. That kind of climbing is called top roping and lead climbing.

But Camelback Mountain is not equipped for that type of activity and should be strictly used for hiking.

“Unfortunately, when we got off trail, it accentuates the chance of getting hurt and we don't want that,” said Sirota.

These safety tips are just a few of the many tips the park rangers are pushing with their campaign, “Take a Hike, Do it Right.”

For more information, you can visit their website.