15 ‘young men,’ two adults rescued from ‘treacherous’ Garfield Co. slot canyon

Jun 10, 2022, 10:35 AM | Updated: 11:26 pm

GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah — Search and rescue crews were able to reach 15 young men and two adults who were trapped in a “treacherous” slot canyon.

Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said crews responded to Sandthrax Canyon Thursday night after the church group started out on a hike that morning.

Search and rescue personnel were able to get the group some food and water Thursday before they began hoisting them out of the canyon Friday morning.

“They were lucky they were in an area where that hoist was able to be used,” Perkins told KSL TV on Friday. 

Perkins said the Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter, deputies and rope rescue personnel responded to the area, which is “one of (the) most treacherous slot canyons in Garfield County.”

The four slot canyons clustered in this area see more search and rescue calls than the rest of the county combined, according to Perkins.

Several online guides and reviews say only highly experienced climbers should attempt climbs in Sandthrax Canyon. According to one guide, the canyon was given the most technical class rating possible with an extreme risk factor.

“There are places in the canyon that you can really get into real trouble,” Perkins said.

Perkins added several groups “have no idea what they’re getting into” when they head to the area, and everyone should know the terrain and come with good gear and extra water and supplies.

“Be careful, be cautious, be prepared, and above all, do not think you are invincible in this red rock country,” he said. “It will gobble you up.”

He added, “We want you to come and we want you to have a good time, but number one, know your limitations.”

One of the adult leaders may have a sprained ankle, but no other injuries were reported. Perkins said everyone was out of the canyon by 11:15 a.m. Friday.

He credited the DPS helicopter as an “ace in the hole” for search and rescue teams, saying having to hand rescue this many people would have taken several hours.

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15 ‘young men,’ two adults rescued from ‘treacherous’ Garfield Co. slot canyon