All ten pitches of last year’s flow on Stairway to Heaven (WI5). The red arrow marks the approximate area where Hunnicutt’s feet slipped, resulting in a lethal rope-length fall. [Photo] Daryn Smith
Adding to the string of tragic events that have devastated the climbing community over the past year, Christopher Hunnicutt took a lethal fall this morning on Utah’s renowned ice climb, Stairway to Heaven (WI5) in Provo Canyon near Bridal Veil Falls.
Stairway to Heaven is a steep ice wall outside of Salt Lake City that forms up to ten pitches of pure ice. Cold, dry weather and increased traffic in the wake of the Outdoor Retailer show have made recent conditions less than ideal.
Hunnicutt was climbing with Timmy O’Neill. According to initial reports, Hunnicutt had completed the third pitch and was pulling up slack when the accident occurred, resulting in a full rope-length lead fall. A helmet was unable to protect from severe head trauma, and he died on-scene. More information will be posted as it becomes available.