Overdue Hiker Found Dead at Bottom of 200-Foot Cliff in Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT

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sundial peak, big cottonwood canyon, utah, Lake Blanche,
Sundial Peak and Lake Blanche, UT. Credit: Facebook

A man was found dead after leaving his partner behind to complete a hike to the top of Sundial Peak in Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT, on Sunday.

The couple had gone out intending to climb the mountain together, but not feeling well, one of them returned to Lake Blanche around 1 pm while the other continued. When the hiker attempting the summit had not returned within by early evening, the partner raised the alarm.

Search and rescue teams began to start up the trail as Life Flight and Department of Public Safety helicopters arrived to assist, although high winds hampered their efforts. Ground crews continued through the night until they found the missed hiker dead at the bottom of a 200-foot cliff at around 1 am.

The helicopter returned at 9 am the following morning to help extricate the body.

Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Report:

Rescue #58: Overdue Hiker/Recovery, Lake Blanche, Big Cottonwood Canyon

Callout Time: 8:00 pm 10/3/2021

Duration: 13 hours

While we were wrapping up rescue #57 in Mill Creek, we received a report of an overdue hiker around Lake Blanche.

A couple had gone hiking towards Lake Blanche with the goal of going to the top of the Sundial. They made it to the lake and continued up. One person in the party wasn’t feeling well and turned back to the lake around 1 pm, while the other hiker continued up.

Around early evening the person at the lake had not seen or heard from their partner, became concerned, and hiked out to get a cell phone signal to call for help. A SAR team was started up the trail, and the Life Flight and Department of Public Safety helicopters were called to help. Unfortunately, due to high winds, they weren’t able to insert more teams around the Sundial or stay still enough to search effectively. Due to the difficulty of searching the area above the lake in the dark, it was decided to send most members home for the night, and to restart the search at daybreak.

The first ground team was to continue up overnight in order to go to a point where we were able to ping their cell phone below the Sundial. In addition, we also keep a few team members at the incident command post in case new information was discovered or if team one needed assistance.

Around 1 am, ground team one made it to the base of the Sundial and started searching the bottom of the cliffs. Soon after, they discovered the missing hiker deceased at the bottom of a 200′ cliff. A second team was sent up the trail with additional food, water, and warm clothes for team 1.

The Department of Public Safety Helicopter was called out in the morning and helped package the hiker and bring them back to trailhead. All teams were off the mountain by 9 am.

Our condolences to the hiker’s companion and family. RIP.

According to Summit Post, Sundial Peak rests in the Twin Peaks Wilderness area. It is protected by surrounding 11,000 foot peaks and is probably the most photographed peak along the Wasatch range. Its prominent north face is a challenging rock climb. Additionally, Sundial Peak has been chosen to be the symbol for the Wasatch Mountain Club. The summit is seldom visited as many people choose to stop at Lake Blanche, which sits just to the north of the peak. For those choosing to summit, it can be ascended via a Class 3 route on the southwestern side of the peak. In the spring and winter it offers an exhilarating snow/ice climb on it’s northwest side.

Sundial Peak, UT

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