In a cruel twist of fate, members of the Alpine Rescue Team (ART), who were in the midst of a memorial hike, responded to a call of a fallen hiker on Grizzly Peak in Colorado last Saturday. The victim, a young male climber, had been fatally injured after being struck by a large boulder that dislodged from the mountain’s northeastern ridge.
The ART members, along with the son of a man who died in a similar incident four years ago, had to abandon their ascent to Torreys Peak to rush to the neighboring Grizzly Peak D. Despite their swift action, they arrived to find that the hiker had already passed away.
The victim’s companion, having witnessed the dreadful incident, had retreated to the Loveland Pass trailhead to call 911. Rescue crews, comprising multiple agencies, were stationed at Loveland Pass and the Bakerville exit of Interstate 70. A Frisco-based Flight For Life medical helicopter made several trips to transport around a dozen rescuers to the accident site. The operation continued till around 2:30 p.m. when the victim’s body was recovered and handed over to the Clear Creek County Coroner’s Office.
Dawn Wilson of ART, who was participating in the memorial hike, shed some light on the incident. She stated that the accident occurred on a trail laden with small, loose rocks, with boulders ranging from the size of basketballs to dishwashers. The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are yet to be released.
In an unfortunate turn, the victim’s grey clothing made him blend into the rocky terrain, causing a slight delay in locating him. Wilson emphasized the importance of wearing bright-colored attire when engaging in outdoor activities for better visibility in such emergencies.
The memorial hike that was interrupted by the emergency was in honor of Don Chambliss, a 71-year-old who died while hiking Torreys Peak in 2019. His son, now a great supporter of ART and other search and rescue agencies, was present with the rescue crew at the time of the accident. When asked about the tragic coincidence, Wilson responded, “It was a kick in the face.”
LESSONS LEARNED AND MOUNTAIN SAFETY TIPS
The tragic incident underscores the importance of adhering to safety measures while undertaking such challenging outdoor activities. Here are a few crucial lessons learned and tips for ensuring safety on the mountains:
Wear Bright-Colored Clothing: Bright clothes can significantly enhance visibility in case of accidents and emergencies, aiding quicker location and rescue.
Understand the Terrain: Be aware that trails, especially those in high-altitude mountainous regions, can often be filled with loose rocks and large boulders. Research and familiarize yourself with the trail conditions before starting your climb.
Hike in Pairs or Groups: The presence of the victim’s companion was crucial in promptly alerting authorities about the incident. Never undertake such expeditions alone.
Carry a Whistle and Flashlight: In case of emergencies, these tools can help attract attention and signal rescuers.
Let Someone Know Your Plans: Always inform someone trustworthy about your hiking plans – where you are going and your expected time of return.
Respect Nature and Stay Alert: Nature can be unpredictable, especially in mountainous terrains. Keep a safe distance from edges, and stay vigilant for signs of falling rocks or unstable ground.
We remind climbers to remember these tips, to respect the mountains, and to stay safe out there. Learn more by reading our comprehensive mountain safety guide.