Man dies in Grand Canyon while trying gruelling rim-to-rim hike in single day

A 55-year-old man died while on an 18-mile trek at the Grand Canyon.

Ranjith Varma from Virginia was attempting to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in a single day when he lost his life.

He was part of a group of six hikers when the incident happened on 9 September. After the group covered about half of the hike, Varma reportedly became unresponsive.

National Park Service (NPS) officials said they received an emergency call just before 2pm on 9 September. They were informed of the hiker in distress on the North Kaibab Trail one mile south of Cottonwood Campground, reports said.

Varma was given CPR by members the group, but attempts to resuscitate him proved unsuccessful.

“It definitely is a tragic circumstance. No one comes to the Grand Canyon thinking something like this would occur to them,” Joelle Baird, a public affair specialist for the NPS, said.

A helicopter was flown in for the rescue too, but Varma died before anything else could be done. He was transported to the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office in Flagstaff, local media said.

Although the precise cause of Varma’s death remains unclear, Ms Baird emphasised that the demanding nature of the hike, coupled with recent heatwaves, creates a dangerous environment for those attempting such an endeavour.

On the day of Varma’s hike, the temperature in the Inner Canyon exceeded 100F (approximately 38C).

Park rangers strongly recommend against hiking in the inner canyon during the day’s peak heat hours, typically between 10am and 4pm.

“People need to be acclimated. Heat can be a factor that a lot of folks – unless they’re from a hot environment – can be blindsided by,” Ms Baird said.

The incident is the third death of a hiker within Grand Canyon National Park this year. In May, a woman from Indiana lost her life while attempting to hike the Bright Angel Trail from the rim to the river and back in a single day. In July, another woman died while hiking in the remote Tuweep area.

The Grand Canyon National Park averages between 15 and 20 deaths each year, Ms Baird was quoted as saying by the Arizona Daily Sun.

“That’s everything from people experiencing medical cardiac arrest here on the rim to these types of incidents in the Inner Canyon,” she said.

“So there’s a lot that’s encompassing that statistic. I will say, on average for Inner Canyon type of fatalities, we see typically one to two per year. We typically see the highest instances as a result of heat as a contributing factor to those fatalities.”