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California man dies while canyoneering in Death Valley National Park

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Posted at 3:52 PM, Mar 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-25 18:52:21-04

A California man is dead after falling while rappelling in Death Valley National Park.

According to officials, 41-year-old Matthew Yaussi from Glendale, California, was canyoneering with a companion when the incident happened.

He and his companion had hiked about 4,000 feet up a ridge before starting their descent of Bottomless Pit Canyon, the informal name of a canyon south of Titus Canyon in the Grapevine Mountains. According to an online description, this canyoneering route involves 19 rappels down cliffs or dry waterfalls. Bottomless Pit was first descended in 2012, and it is not a commonly done route.

The two canyoneers planned to break the 380-foot rappel into stages by setting up an anchor on a ledge partway down. Yaussi’s companion had already rappelled to the ground when Yaussi fell to his death at approximately 8:30 p.m. His companion activated an emergency locator beacon and was extracted later that night by the U.S. Navy’s VX-31 helicopter, based in China Lake.

Yaussi’s body was recovered the next day by an Inyo County Sherriff’s Deputy and California Highway Patrol’s H-80 helicopter.