After a late night, the skladventure crew slept in on our first grand canyon day. We had a lot of packing left to do and got a late start on the drive out from Flagstaff. Unfortunately the road we started out on was closed due to snow and ice. So we took a long detour around Arizona and ended up at the park around 3pm. When we tried to check into the backcountry office, we found out that our permit had not gone through and that we would have to wait at least two more days to get a permit to go into the backcountry. Since we didn’t have that much time we decided to just go in without a permit. After trying to sort out our situation with the park service, riding a shuttle to the trailhead and re-packing our bags, it was beginning to get dark. But, without a place to stay in the park we decided to descend the canyon and make camp in the warmer temperatures of the inner canyon.
The beginning of our 7 mile descent with a 4000 drop in elevation was steep, icy, and dark. After hiking for 3.5 hours we were cold, exhausted and lost. Danny and I decided to make camp on the trail, but Li and Kilian were determined to get to the bottom of the canyon. The first night of camping was a little chilly, but we both managed to sleep for a couple hours, until we heard a noise outside our tent. Danny got out to find two mule dear had torn holes through our backpacks and eaten our oatmeal and granola bars.
The next morning we inspected our backpacks. Mine wasn’t ripped too badly, but Danny’s was in poor condition. We managed to fit the necessities in my pack, and started for the bottom. When we reached the first campground, a ranger asked to see our permit but we said it was with the other members of our group. We explained that they had gotten separated from us and, we asked if they had been around the campsite. The ranger said he hadn’t seen anyone matching that description.
Danny and I spent the day hiking around the area looking for them. We finally found their tent set up behind some bushes about 3 miles out from the campsite. We started yelling for them and looking all around. Finally we heard Li yelling from high above us. We looking up the wall to see him waving his arms frantically. We started scrambling up the rock to get to him, when we finally made it up, he explained that Kilian had climbed up the rock that morning; Li had heard Kilian yelling and saw rocks breaking off from above. We looked around all afternoon but we couldn’t find Kilian anywhere. We hiked back to the campsite to tell the ranger, but he wasn’t around. Li decided to hike out to the next campsite 5 miles away, with a 1000 foot elevation gain, in order to find another ranger.
Danny and I left our pack at the bottom, And decided to hike out the way we came as quickly as possible. After jogging uphill for 2 hours we had to take a rest. We walked off the trail to a big rock where we could sit down, just on the edge of one of the switchbacks. While we were resting Danny threw a snowball at me so I pushed him, harder than I had expected and he started to roll backwards off the rock, I tried to grab his arm, but he had already fallen. He started rolling down the canyon, and finally rolled off the edge of a cliff.
I haven’t seen any of them since. Luckily, I had the keys to the car.