Climber Dies in Summit County

29-Year-Old Climber Dies in Summit County After Tragic Fall

SUMMIT COUNTY, CO – The Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG) announced the recovery of a 29-year-old male climber from a boulder field near Officers Gulch, specifically at a cliff area known as Officers Wall. The operation concluded at noon on September 3, following an overnight search.

SCRG was alerted of the missing individual at 10:33 pm on September 2nd, by a friend of the deceased. The friend reported that he had been notified earlier in the day about a climbing expedition in Officers Gulch, although the exact location was not specified. At around 5:00 pm, the missing climber informed his friend that he was on a rock and would be descending, expecting to return by 6:30 pm. Concerned after not hearing back and finding the climber’s car still parked at Officers Gulch, the friend alerted authorities.

Eight SCRG members began the initial search around 11:30 pm, focusing on the bike path between Officers Gulch and Frisco, as well as a climbers’ trail known as Halfway Rock. Due to the hazards of nighttime operations and environmental noise, the search was postponed until dawn.

On September 3rd, 19 SCRG members resumed the search, joined by a drone operated by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO). With the aid of last-known coordinates and a video shared by the family, a pair of SCRG rescuers located the body at 7:50 am. SCSO’s Special Operations Unit conducted an accident investigation before a technical SCRG team set up rigging to evacuate the deceased.

Both SCRG and SCSO extend their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. They commend the climber and his family for taking appropriate measures that expedited the search, such as sharing an expected return time and utilizing a phone location app.

Lessons Learned and Safety Tips for Readers

While this incident ended in tragedy, it serves as a somber reminder for the outdoor community to take safety precautions seriously:

  1. Communication is Key: Always inform someone about your plans, including location and expected return time.

  2. Leverage Technology: Utilize GPS and phone location-sharing apps to help rescuers locate you quickly in case of an emergency.

  3. Understand the Risks: Climbing and hiking involve inherent risks. Always perform a risk assessment and be prepared for unexpected situations.

  4. Time Matters: In case of a delay or change of plans, notify your emergency contact immediately.

  5. Respect the Environment: Conditions in the wilderness can change rapidly. Always stay updated on weather forecasts and trail conditions.

For everyone engaging in outdoor activities, it’s crucial to adopt these practices to maximize your safety and facilitate rescue operations, if needed. Read our complete mountain safety guide for more information.

Support Colorado Search and Rescue teams by purchasing a COSAR Card.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

Learn more about how we protect public lands and prevent SAR calls through education & advocacy.

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