Teen Falls 90 Feet to Her Death While Rock Climbing

University of Georgia's Yutong Zhang fell during a climb near Alabama's Cherokee Rock Village
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2023 10:00 AM CDT
University of Georgia Student Dies in Rock-Climbing Fall
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Zhanna Danilova)

A University of Georgia student's outdoor adventure in a neighboring state ended in tragedy when she fell during a rock climb last weekend. The Cherokee County Coroner's Office confirmed that Yutong "Faye" Zhang, originally of Minnesota, died last Saturday around noon after she fell 90 feet while climbing near Alabama's Cherokee Rock Village, which AL.com describes as "a popular site for rock climbing, hiking, and camping."

Witnesses tell the news outlet that it appeared the 18-year-old college freshman's rope was placed in such a way so that when too much weight bore down on it, it became unclipped from its carabiners; a mountain-climbing guide offers his analysis on what may have happened here. Friends and fellow climbers say it was only Zhang's second outside climb.

A Monday statement from Active Climbing, the rock-climbing facility in Athens, Georgia, that Zhang had recently joined, noted it was "saddened" about her death. "Faye, your spirit will forever be a part of our community," it read. "We are all heartbroken about it," Active Climbing owner Adrian Prelipceanu adds to WSB. The office of Cherokee County coroner Paul McDonald said in a statement cited by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Zhang's body was recovered after a "lengthy and difficult recovery process," and that his office is investigating her death. (More rock climbing stories.)

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