Fallen hiker had passion for the outdoors, family says

By Sandra Yi, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Aug. 20, 2014, 6:40 p.m. MDT

 Andrew Sharp, 35, died Aug. 15 when he fell while hiking in Little Cottonwood Canyon. His family said he loved the outdoors and posted many photos on Facebook to document his hikes.

Andrew Sharp, 35, died Aug. 15 when he fell while hiking in Little Cottonwood Canyon. His family said he loved the outdoors and posted many photos on Facebook to document his hikes.

(Andrew Sharp)

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON — If pictures could tell a story, 35-year-old Andrew Sharp’s would be one big adventure.

Sharp documented his love affair with Utah’s great outdoors, always taking a moment to capture the breathtaking scenery around him.

Those photos fill his Facebook page.

“I think he got his love of hiking from his grandpa,” said Sharp's aunt, Julie Sharp, who lives in Bountiful.

She said he was inspired by his late grandfather, who was skiing and hiking well into his 90s.

Andrew Sharp was born in Maryland, but his father’s job with the U.S. Department of State took the family abroad.

“He lived in Egypt, in the Sudan and Tunisia and also in Jordan,” Julie Sharp said.

Andrew Sharp was an engineer for L3 Communications, and several years ago his job brought him from Ohio to Utah.

“He’s just been a hiking fanatic ever since then,” his aunt said.

Andrew Sharp spent most of his time outside, Julie Sharp said.

“He started snowshoeing this last year. He had gotten ice picks because he was going to start climbing and rappelling,” she said.

His hike in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Aug. 15 would be his last.

Unified police say Andrew Sharp sent a text to his friend around noon asking him to meet him at the White Pine Trailhead for a ride home.

When he failed to show up, his friend called police.

A helicopter crew found the man’s body Saturday morning at the bottom of White Pine Canyon.

“I’ve lost my mom and brother in the past few years and stuff, but you don’t think you’re going to lose your 35-year-old nephew,” Julie Sharp said.

She said her nephew was intelligent, funny and an all-around great guy.

Andrew Sharp had set a goal to climb the highest peaks in every county in Utah by the end of August.

“He only had a few counties left to go,” she said.

His death isn’t the only one in Utah’s mountains this summer. Three others have died while hiking.

Unified police said they may never know what caused Andrew Sharp to fall. They said people need to know their skill level.

Andrew Sharp's family said their loss shows that tragedy can befall even the most experienced hiker.

“If you’re going to go hiking anywhere, take a companion with you,” Julie Sharp said. “Anything can happen, anytime.”

email: syi@deseretnews.com

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1. patriot
Cedar Hills, UT,
Aug. 20, 2014

I have to say I share the same 'mountain fever' as this man. From the time I was in my teens I was climbing everything that could be climbed. When I was in my 20's I had climbed everything in Utah many times over and was going to Colorado and California to climb Mt Whitney and other 14k giants. Today I always climb with my sons or friends - never alone - but that wasn't always the case when I was young. I climbed many times alone feeling like I was too experienced to be in any danger and I took a lot of risks. I didn't see the risks then - but looking back I was living on the edge alot of the time. It's not hard to do.

Having said that I feel so badly for this mans family. This is a tragic thing and I hope and pray they can find comfort with his loss.

2. Vince Ballard
South Ogden, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

I say amen to 'patriots' remarks. I took a lot of chances as a young man, hiking alone. It only takes a slight misfortune to render a young and fit person helpless and at the mercy of nature, which can be as deadly as it is beautiful. ALWAYS err on the side of caution with respect to steep slopes, water, emergency supplies and communication if hiking alone. Leave a map with family showing the exact location you intend to go, and stay with that plan. Best of all, go with a companion. The fact that most of the Wasatch Front Mountains are readily accessible is deceiving. Most of this area is remarkably difficult and remote for search and rescue, often allowing search only on foot or by helicopter. People have gone missing and have never been found, or their remains have been found after decades have passed. People just don't realize the risks associated with the beauty of the remote outdoors.

3. Buzzards
Aug. 21, 2014

I confess to scratching my head about where this occurred. Upper White Pine has some cliffy areas and I could see how this tragedy could happen, but down lower, it's either a nice trail-heck, it used to be a road-or somewhat steep but very brushy forested slopes. Not a pleasant place to go off trail.
Anyway, I am grateful for the natural wonder we have here on the Wasatch Front, and sobered that even so close to home, one small mistake or even just bad luck can have such consequences.

4. andyjaggy
American Fork, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

Unfortunately for those of us who love the mountains as much as this man did, going alone is just a fact of life. My desire to be out hiking and camping outweighs my ability to find people to come with me. I am incredibly careful and very risk averse. I always let my wife know where I am going and carry a GPS emergency beacon just in case. I still know there are some risks, but honestly I think the risk of driving to the trail head is probably greater than once I am on the trail.

5. runninlarry
Syracuse, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

My personal condolences go out to the friends and family for their loss. It's always sad to hear of someone passing because they lost their footing and or got lost in our mountains, but we (those that explore the hills regularly) understand and accept that risk as we accept the reward of being able to venture into the back-country to see the sights that most only dream of or see in pictures.