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Death Valley rockslide claims canyoneer’s life

Canyoneer Justin Ibershoff, 38, of Los Angeles, died Saturday, Jan. 30, in an accident in Death Valley National Park, according to the park and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office.

Ibershoff was descending a technical route down Deimos Canyon with six friends. The group was very experienced, and most members of the party previously had descended the canyon several times.

The incident occurred while Ibershoff was descending a steep, rocky slope to the top of the third rappel anchor. He apparently stepped on a rock that moved, triggering a rockslide that swept him past two companions and over the edge of the 95-foot dry fall.

The group used an emergency locator beacon to call for assistance. The group’s ability to send more detailed information via texts through the emergency beacon aided rescuers. After assessing Ibershoff’s condition, the group continued down the canyon because of continuing active rock fall.

Inyo County search-and-rescue and Death Valley park rangers were assisted by helicopters from California Highway Patrol and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. A crew from the Navy’s VX-31 helicopter were able to reach Ibershoff a few hours after the accident and establish that he had died. At that point, the incident response transitioned into a body recovery.

Inyo County SAR team members and CHP’s H-82 helicopter from Apple Valley recovered Mr. Ibershoff’s body the next day.

Conditions in that area of the canyon remain unstable, and canyoneers are advised to avoid the upper section of Deimos Canyon.

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