Virginia hiker Ranjith Varma dies while attempting to hike from rim to rim of the Grand Canyon

A Virginia hiker fainted and died Saturday while trying to hike more than 20 miles in a single day at the Grand Canyon, officials said.

Ranjith Varma, 55, died shortly after first responders received a call about 2 p.m. from a hiker in distress on the North Kaibab Trail as he attempted to travel from the South Rim to the North Rim in the Arizona portion of the sprawling national park.

Varma, of Manassas, became unresponsive about a mile south of the Cottonwood Campground after the 911 call was made, and bystanders began administering CPR. the National Park Service said in a news release.

Ranjith Varma was reached by rescuers but was unresponsive after the emergency call about a mile south of the Cottonwood Campground.
Ranjith Varma was reached by rescuers but was unresponsive after the emergency call about a mile south of the Cottonwood Campground.

Rescuers reached Varma by helicopter, requiring special maneuvers to allow rangers to provide advance life support measures, the agency said.

“Attempts to resuscitate the hiker were unsuccessful,” the NPS said.

He died closer to the North Rim, where he planned to end his hike.

The Rim to Rim hike is a difficult hike of 24 miles in one direction.

“There’s no question that the Rim-to-Rim hike in Grand Canyon National Park is a classic bucket-list adventure,” says the National Park Foundation devices. “But it’s certainly not a walk in the park.”

Varma’s cause of death was not announced, but the park service warned that temperatures in the summer months can reach over 120 degrees on exposed parts of the trail in the shade.

The temperature at Grand Canyon National Park Airport — a 25-minute drive from the South Rim — didn’t reach 90 degrees Saturday.

“Park rangers strongly advise against hiking the inner canyon during the heat of the day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” the NPS said.

“Please note that efforts to assist hikers may be delayed during the summer months due to limited staffing, number of rescue operations, staff safety requirements, and limited ability to fly helicopters during periods of extreme heat or inclement weather.”

A death investigation is underway with the assistance of the Coconino County Coroner.

Other fatalities at the Grand Canyon this summer include a 33-year-old tourist who fell 4,000 feet to his death in June and a 57-year-old woman who died during a 40-degree heat wave in early July.


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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