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Thread: Zion Accident - Louis Johnson - Not Imlay Canyon

  1. #1

    Zion Accident - Louis Johnson - Not Imlay Canyon

    I'm saddened by this news...

    I believe that I met Louis and his partner Everett at the top of Alcatraz earlier this year, and chatted with them for a few minutes. Louis seemed like a nice guy.

    My condolences go out to all that knew him.

    ZION NATIONAL PARK — A man is dead after a canyoneering accident in Zion National Park Friday afternoon, officials said.
    Friday afternoon at approximately 1 p.m., park officials at Zion National Park were alerted to an accident which took place in Not Imlay Canyon. A rescue operation was initiated, including a helicopter used to drop a search-and-rescue team at the top of the canyon, according to park officials.

    At 7:20 p.m., park rangers located an individual, identified at Christian Louis Johnson, 50, of St. George. Johnson was deceased by the time park rangers found him, park officials said.

    Not Imlay Canyon is a side canyon of Imlay Canyon. According to park officials, it has become increasingly popular in recent years as a shorter, drier route. However, park rangers note that Not Imlay Canyon is no less difficult or technical than Imlay Canyon.

    Officials did not release any information as to the specific circumstances surrounding Johnson's death. It was not clear whether he was hiking alone or with companions. More information will be released as it becomes available.

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  3. #2
    I've been grieving all day.
    He was an incredible human being and a mentor to me

    A light in this world. I will miss you every day

    I love you Louis

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  5. #3

    Date: October 3, 2015
    Contact:Aly Baltrus, 435-703-3836
    Contact:David Eaker, 435-772-7811
    Springdale, Utah: On Friday, October 2, at approximately 1:00 p.m., Zion National Park was alerted to a canyoneering accident in Not Imlay Canyon. A rescue operation was started immediately. A helicopter was used to drop off a Search and Rescue team at the top of the canyon. At 7:20 p.m., Park Rangers found the individual, Christian Louis Johnson, deceased. Johnson, 50, is from Saint George, Utah.
    Not Imlay Canyon is a side canyon of Imlay Canyon. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as a shorter, drier route compared to Imlay Canyon but it is not any less technical or dangerous.

    Johnson was canyoneering with a party of four, including his husband Everett Boutillet. The two had been canyoneering together since 2010 and had "descended more than 100 canyons 200 times in five states" according to Boutillet. This was the couple's second time in Not Imlay Canyon. The accident occurred on the first rappel in the canyon.

    "Zion was our favorite park. Our favorite place to be. Our first canyon was the 'Subway' and we were instantly addicted," said Boutillet. "Louis and I understood the risks, but the joy that it brought outweighed them." Johnson's mother, Joy Johnson, added "Nature gave him so much peace."

    "We also want to share our gratitude for those that went out to him and brought him back and to the personnel for keeping us informed," said Joy Johnson. "Also our gratitude to his canyoneering family, who have sent Louis and Everett well wishes from all around the world."

    The Washington County Sheriff's Office and Zion National Park are investigating the incident. More information will become available once the investigation is complete.

    "Our condolences go out to Louis' family and friends," said Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh.

    Some people "go" through life and other people "grow" through life. -Robert Holden

  6. #4
    Some people "go" through life and other people "grow" through life. -Robert Holden

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  8. #5
    Really sad to hear about this.
    Condolences to family and friends.
    Please be careful out there.

  9. #6
    So what happened, what went wrong?

    Sent from my SM-N900T using Tapatalk

  10. #7
    Moderator jman's Avatar
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    Zion Accident - Louis Johnson - Not Imlay Canyon

    I met Louis in the Roost as well. I can't remember the exact canyon we were doing a year back but he was friendly and we chatted about the nearby canyons.

    Sorry for the family and friends' loss.

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  12. #8
    Condolences. What a bummer.

  13. #9
    So nobody knows what went wrong?

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  14. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sombeech
    So what happened, what went wrong?
    @Sombeech, here is a more detailed account of what happened:
    "My heart shall cry out for Moab..." Isaiah 15:5

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  16. #11
    From dialoguing with Louis’s husband Everett Boutillet, I know that Louis was on the first of two rappels in the canyon that would be the first two in the canyon. They had just begun, and apparently Louis went first, as he often did. This is a position commonly taken by the more experienced of a group to be sure ropes are set and that a safety belay from below is present. I recall Louis doing this often, smiling as he stepped off.

    Everett says the rope did not reach the first landing due to a recent change in the location of the second rappel station they were not aware of. Louis did not look in time to realize he was in trouble and by the time he knew, he was only able to shout up that the end of the rope was eight feet from the landing. He presumably had no choice but to try to land on his feet in a treacherous place as the rappel was multi-pitched. This means he would ideally have tied in to the second anchor before coming off the first rope but was unable to. The party could not see Louis but heard him come off the rope and land, and they believe he rolled off the second rappel unroped.

    The following is beta (climbing information) from about the sections of the canyon where they were.

    The Canyoneering / Technical Section:

    From the drop with the brown stains … walk down the sloped slick rock on the left (north) bypassing the drop.
    About 250 feet down canyon is the top of a drop that can not be bypassed. … Rap 1 is anchored form a pine tree about 40 feet left (north) of the center of the watercourse and drops right at 100 feet into a side ravine. At the bottom of rap 1 the ravine is steep and dirt filled so be careful not slide down uncontrolled while getting off the rappel.


    From the top of Rap 1 you can see people hiking down in the narrows if you look carefully. Also of note from the top of rap 1 you are only 750 horizontal feet from the river down in the narrows with about 850 feet of elevation to lose to get down to the river.

    Rap 2 is right at the bottom of rap 1 and is anchored from another pine tree. Rap 2 drops about 180 feet down a series of ledges to a large ledge. The intermediate ledge on rap 2 is about 100 feet down while the large ledge that rap 2 stops on, 180 feet down.

    From this, it is ascertained that even if Louis was not injured from the initial drop at the end of the rope that did not reach on the first rappel, the fall from the second was imminently fatal.

    Everett confirms saying this: “The rope didn’t reach. We couldn’t see him. Can only use conjecture that he went to land, then rolled, and went over the edge of the second rap. The sounds suggest this and will never leave my mind.”

  17. #12
    Does anybody have a photo of this rappel? It sounds like he hit the end of the rope and fell off the second rappel, is that right?

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  18. #13
    Details will be released soon so that we can all can learn from. The parties involved are in deep grief and dealing with the trauma of the experience.

    An account will be released so we can all grow from this experience.

    In the meantime, go hug and love family and friends.

  19. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Sombeech View Post
    Does anybody have a photo of this rappel? It sounds like he hit the end of the rope and fell off the second rappel, is that right?

    Sent from my SM-N900T using Tapatalk
    You can go to collective and see Rams trip reports for pictures

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

  20. #15
    We are the third and fourth members of the team of canyoneers that set out to descend Not Imlay canyon with Everett and Louis. The following is our attempt to document the events that transpired on Friday, October 2, 2015. We have tried to capture the facts as accurately as possible.

    We had plans with Louis and Everett to do a technical descent of Not Imlay canyon on Friday and Crawford Arch on Saturday. We left The Grotto shuttle stop just after 8:00 am. We arrived at the top of Not Imlay shortly after 11:00 am. We continued down to rap 1, where an anchor was already set. The anchor was set on a tree in the water course. We all inspected it and agreed it was solid. We took a lunch break and then geared up. It was shortly before noon. We discussed safety, agreed to double-strand, and agreed to use a fireman’s belay. The first drop was expected to be 100’ to a ledge with the second rap station, so a 200’ rope was set. The second rap was expected to be 180’. We agreed Louis would take the 300’ rope and set rap 2. Louis got on rope using a Pirana. Before he went over the lip, he posed for photos. He is in the water course in the pictures. We watched as Louis descended over the lip. A little while later we heard Louis shout up to us. It was difficult to communicate and he was out of sight; however, we did hear Louis indicate that there wasn’t enough rope to reach the bottom of the rap. Everett moved into a lower position on a perch with a tree where it appeared he could hear Louis slightly better. They continued to communicate with difficulty for a short time regarding options. A moment later, we heard a scream followed by an impact, after which the scream stopped. After another moment, we heard a second impact. Everett asked if we had heard what he had heard. We all shouted down to Louis; there was no response. We briefly considered sending one person down with ascending gear to assess the situation. We quickly agreed that was not a viable option. We pushed the emergency button on the Spot device shortly after noon. We agreed to part ways; Everett and Shannon went back via the approach route for help, Jeremy stayed back for Louis and SAR. Shannon and Everett each individually made cell contact with 911, Shannon at the top of Scouts Landing and Everett at the junction with Angel’s Landing. They continued together to The Grotto shuttle stop. They were transported by a ranger to the Emergency Operations Center. SAR arrived on the scene at approximately 5:00 pm and quickly began to set up operations. Jeremy was transported by helicopter to the EOC, where he met up with Shannon and Everett.

    Later in the evening, a kind and loving member of the community opened their home and took the three of us in. We are so thankful for the efforts of SAR , the park personnel that helped us, the friends and family that have reached out to us, and to the canyoneering community as a whole. Only Louis knows what happened in those final moments. We are so deeply saddened by this tragedy. Please keep your thoughts with Everett during this time.

    Be safe in your adventures,
    Jeremy & Shannon

  21. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by 2065toyota View Post
    You can go to collective and see Rams trip reports for pictures

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
    Just any one of his Not Imlay reports, or could somebody be so gracious as to direct me to a photo of the rappel in question?

    Much appreciated. Thanks

    Sent from my SM-N900T using Tapatalk

  22. #17
    Sorry for your loss and best wishes for you and your partners as you mourn.

  23. #18
    I love you J and S. I am sorry you had to be part of a tragedy. I grieve along with you and for you.

  24. #19
    Thank you for telling your story, J&S. That must have been unimaginable. Sorry for your loss.

    Sent from my SM-N900T using Tapatalk

  25. #20
    Sorry to say it, but in the quest to discover what when wrong and how, the lesson to learn from this is try REALLY REALLY hard not to make a bad decision.

    Also, wherever one can get beta about this canyon, it needs to be fixed. I could only imagine that these guys thoroughly checked it out? How can it be so screwed up? In just the last few minutes, I learned the there are two ways to rap that drop...a long two stage or a really long one. Watercourse or Blue Gnome...take your pick and use the right rope.

    Bad beta and a lack of instant contingency for this kind of event. Everyone should know what to do, instantly, if they ever get to the end of the rope.
    Suddenly my feet are feet of mud
    It all goes slo-mo
    I don't know why I am crying
    Am I suspended in Gaffa?

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