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Tragic Weekend at Rocky Mountain National Park Results in One Fatality and Two Critical Injuries

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, CO In a series of tragic accidents this past weekend at Rocky Mountain National Park, one climber died and two more received critical injuries.

On Saturday, August 12, a 21-year-old female from Severance, Colorado died after an approximately 300-foot fall in the Flying Dutchman couloir, located between Longs Peak and Mount Meeker. A 25-year-old male from San Angelo, Texas also fell in the same location, suffering critical injuries.

Park visitors alerted rangers to the incident, leading to a complicated rescue operation involving 31 people, including Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members, Estes Park Health, Rocky Mountain Rescue, and Colorado Air National Guard. A helicopter from Buckley Air Force Base was called in for hoist operations, and the critically injured man was transferred to the Medical Center of the Rockies.

On the previous day, August 11, a 64-year-old male from College Station, Texas took a tumbling 60-foot fall above the Ledges on the Keyhole Route on Longs Peak. Once again, a Colorado Air National Guard helicopter was needed for a hoist operation. The man was flown to the Medical Center of the Rockies for treatment.

Recovery operations for the deceased female were delayed by weather and will be carried out on Monday, weather permitting. Her identity will be disclosed following positive identification and next of kin notification.

Lessons Learned and Mountain Safety Tips

The tragic events of this weekend underscore the importance of mountain safety and awareness. Here are some essential tips:

  1. Know Your Route: Understanding the terrain, knowing the route, and having a solid plan can make all the difference. Routes like the Flying Dutchman couloir require technical skill and knowledge.

  2. Equipment and Training: Carrying the right equipment and having training in its use, such as personal locator beacons, can save lives.

  3. Buddy System: Never hike or climb alone. A companion can provide immediate assistance if something goes wrong.

  4. Listen to Weather Forecasts: Weather conditions can change rapidly. Being aware and prepared can prevent being caught in dangerous situations.

  5. Use Professional Guides if Unfamiliar: Guided trips can provide expertise and experience in unfamiliar terrains.

  6. Leave No Trace: Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles. Respect nature and fellow adventurers by preserving the environment.

This weekend’s events remind us all of the inherent risks associated with mountain adventures. It highlights the importance of preparation, awareness, and responsible decision-making in the great outdoors. Read our mountain safety guide to learn how to have safe adventures outdoors.

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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