American Tourist Dies on Popular Hike in Central Australia

By James Burke
James Burke
James Burke
January 10, 2018Updated: January 10, 2018

An American man has died while hiking in central Australia after taking a wrong turn.

The 33-year-old hiker from California died on the popular Larapinta Trail, west of Alice Springs, on Wednesday, Jan. 10, reported ABC.

The man — so far unnamed — set out in the morning at 8:30 a.m. with a 40-year-old walking companion to climb Mount Sonder. During their decent from the mountain the pair got separated. The 33-year-old’s dead body was found later the same day at 5:00 p.m. some 750 meters (2,500 ft) from a carpark.

Temperatures had reached 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the area on that day.

“[Mount Sonder is] about 1,300 meters tall and the actual walk that they undertook was about 16 kilometers there and back — so quite a hike,” Duty Superintendent Rob Burgoyne told the ABC.

The 40-year-old man told police his companion ran off on their return and it seemed he went the wrong way.

“They both descended the mountain, unfortunately it appears the deceased took a wrong turn at that stage,” Duty Superintendent Burgoyne said.

“His partner made it back to the Redbank Gorge carpark and raised the alarm, but unfortunately the 33 year-old didn’t arrive and his body was eventually located about 400 meters (0.25 miles) down the track where he’d turned the wrong way,” he said.

“It was about three hours from when he was last seen and when his body was found.”

While police said investigations were continuing, they said there no suspicious circumstances about the man’s death.

“We do know he had water with him, but he did do a very foolish thing in that he apparently ran away from his companion after the descent,” he said.

“It wouldn’t be a terribly advisable thing to do in 40-degree heat – to actually sprint away.”

The final section of the trail that the men were walking is a steep, rocky incline with very little to no tree shade to help reduce heat exposure, reported the ABC.

Chris Day from Parks and Wildlife told the ABC about the dangers of dehydration.

“It’s almost physically impossible to put back the fluids that you’re going to lose as quickly as you’re losing them, and unfortunately people become dehydrated very rapidly before even realising that it’s even happening,” said Day.

The U.S. Consulate has since been advised of the American’s death and a report is being prepared for the coroner, reported the ABC.


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