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Rock Climber Dies in Utah After Slip into Snow Gully

The accident comes during a busy month for search and rescue techs in the area

James Roache, 54, and his climbing partner were at the base of the famous West Slabs of Mount Olympus southeast of Salt Lake City when he fell.

The base of the route is above a number of steep approach gullies which are still full of snow as it’s still early season for alpine-style rock climbs. The 10-pitch 5.5 is one of the most popular climbs in the Central Wasatch Range.

“The two were near the base of the Slabs route when one of them slipped on steep snow,” the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team said on Facebook. “He slid a considerable distance before hitting rocks below and dropping into a narrow space between a wall of rock and deep snow which had melted away from the wall.”

Roache died in the fall that took place at 9 a.m. Rescuers airlifted Roache’s partner off the mountain and later removed his body after moving it to a more accessible location.

If you’re approaching a climb in the alpine and there’s risk of taking a tumble or rockfall from above, it’s a good idea to wear your helmet. The accident comes during one of the busiest seasons Salt Lake County Search and Rescue have had.

Below are technical climbing accidents near Salt Lake City since the start of spring. There have also been a number of rescues in Western Canada this spring, follow the Squamish Search and Rescue page below. Our condolences to the family and friends of James Roache.

April 9: Two “stranded” climbers who couldn’t find a descent. Schoolroom LCC.
May 7: Leader fall near anchors, gear ripped, ground fall with back and internal injuries. Ferguson Canyon.
May 9: Injured climber from rock fall near the Waterfront. Severe injuries, required LifeFlight. LCC.
May 13: Fall before first bolt, lower leg compound fracture. Hellgate, LCC.
May 14: Ground fall from anchor, severe injuries. Narcolepsy Wall, BCC.
May 20: Fallen hiker/scrambler, femur fracture. Houndstooth, Ferguson Canyon.
May 21: Fallen hiker/scrambler, deceased. Mount Superior, LCC.
May 22: Fallen climber on West Slabs, deceased. Mount Olympus.