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Utah man dies after rock climbing accident in Alaska

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jul 04, 2019

SPRINGVILLE, Utah -- A 26-year-old man from Springville has died in a rock climbing accident at Denali National Park in Alaska.

Evan Millsap was living in Fairbanks, Alaska, studying to get his Ph.D. He fell 70 feet on Tuesday after his anchor system somehow came loose.

His family said he loved the classroom just as much as he loved the outdoors and he never stopped learning or climbing.

“There’s so much that I want everyone to know about my brother,” said Logan Millsap, who is two years older than Evan. “He always just wanted to be the very very best in every single thing, so he’d drag you off on these adventures that were way out of your league, and he would somehow get you through them… He was everything that Utahns can be proud of, and everything that Americans should be proud of, and he was everything I’m proud of, and I miss him so much.”

Family members said Millsap was studying paleontology and would constantly share random facts about the things he would learn with loved ones.

“The thing is it’s not just that he loves adventure, it’s that Evan loves life,” said his mother, Denice Gale. “Everyone who knew Evan loved him and admired him... He was the kid who you could put on a trail at three years old, and he’d never ask to be carried.”

Gale said she knew how much her son would love sharing experiences with his entire family, including her and his eight siblings.

“I’m not fit like Evan, but he would take me climbing and teach me things, and he was so careful to make sure that everything was safe,” she said. “I worried about Evan because he liked to be in the middle of life. I didn’t worry about Evan because he was sharp, and he was careful, and he was skilled.”

The family is still struggling to understand the circumstances of his death, but they were happy to learn he was with a climbing partner who rushed to get help.

“At least he was with someone, doing what he loved,” Logan Millsap said. “It was sort of a spiritual experience for him, a way to chase off the black dog of depression. He felt like if he could just run fast enough, and far enough, and climb high enough, that maybe he could keep the darkness at bay… I can’t help but think about all of the time I’m going to have for the rest of my life without him.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses. If you would like to donate, you can do so here.