Grand Canyon hiker dies after trying to walk from rim to rim in a single day

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — A 55-year-old Virginia man died in the Grand Canyon while trying to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim in a single day, a distance of 21 miles (33.8 kilometers), authorities said Monday.

Grand Canyon National Park officials identified the hiker who died Saturday as Ranjith Varma of Manassas. The location where he passed away is toward the end of the South Rim to North Rim trek, which can take 12 to 15 hours to complete.

At around 2 p.m. Saturday, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center reported receiving an emergency call of a hiker in distress on the North Kaibab Trail, about one mile south of Cottonwood Campground. Varma became unresponsive, and bystanders and rangers both unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate him, park officials said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if his death was heat related. An investigation was being conducted by the Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

The high temperature on Saturday was 87 degrees (30.5 Celsius) at Grand Canyon Airport, which is about a 20 minute drive from the South Rim.

Earlier this year, a 36-year-old Indiana woman died while trying to hike to the Colorado River and back in a day. She was found unconscious on May 14 along the Bright Angel Trail above the Three-Mile Resthouse.

On July 3, a 57-year-old woman died while on an eight-mile hike in triple-digit heat at Grand Canyon National Park.

Park officials say summertime temperatures on exposed parts of the trail can reach over 120 degrees (49 Celsius).