Two Climbers Rescued from Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO – On Tuesday evening, July 11, 2023, park rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park received a distress call from two climbers stranded on Longs Peak. The climbers, uninjured but unequipped for the challenges they encountered, were unable to complete their ascent.

Setting out from Chasm Lake on Tuesday morning, the pair began their climb via the Casual Route on the East Face of Longs Peak, also known as the Diamond. As they progressed, they found themselves unprepared for the conditions on Longs Peak and lacked the necessary equipment to self-rescue or to weather an unplanned night in the cold.

RMNP Rescue on Longs Peak

Images Courtesy of Rocky Mountain National Park and NPS Photos

With no other options, the climbers contacted park rangers. Rangers kept open lines of communication throughout the night, ensuring their safety until rescue teams could be dispatched at first light on Wednesday, July 12.

The Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team, supported by National Park Service (NPS) staff, commenced the rescue operation early Wednesday morning. The teams were able to reach the stranded climbers and assisted them off the steep technical terrain. Together, they made a safe descent down the North Face of Longs Peak and returned to the Longs Peak Trailhead by Wednesday evening.

Longs Peak, towering at 14,259 feet, is the highest peak inside Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a significant challenge for climbers, demanding winter mountaineering experience and a comprehensive understanding of necessary equipment for the majority of the year.

Mountain Safety Tips and Lessons Learned

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the inherent dangers of mountain climbing and the importance of thorough preparation. The following safety tips and lessons can be drawn from this experience:

  1. Knowledge of Climbing Routes: Before embarking on a climb, it’s crucial to familiarize oneself with the route and understand the difficulties that might be encountered. Detailed route maps and guides are available, and consulting with experienced climbers or park rangers can be beneficial.
  2. Proper Equipment: Possessing the necessary equipment to self-rescue and survive an unexpected night on the mountain is vital. This may include warm clothing, a bivy sack or tent, food and water, a first-aid kit, climbing gear, a headlamp, and navigation tools.
  3. Winter Mountaineering Experience: Longs Peak is in winter conditions for most of the year, which requires specific skills and experience. If you’re not comfortable with winter mountaineering, consider seeking training or choosing a less challenging climb.
  4. Respect for the Mountain Environment: The mountain environment is unpredictable and can change rapidly. Ignoring this fact increases the danger. Always respect the mountain and stay within your limits.
  5. Emergency Plans: Always let someone know your plans before you depart, including your route, who is in your party, and when you plan to return. It’s also wise to carry a method of communication in case of emergencies.

Remember, your safety is your responsibility. Preparation and understanding are key to a successful and enjoyable adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park. Learn more about mountain safety with our complete guide.

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.

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