Over the weekend the popular Colorado 14, 000 foot mountain, Longs Peak, saw the first death of 2016.
According to rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park, the victim was a 61 year old man from Greeley, Colorado. He was on a section called The Narrows when he slipped on ice and fell approximately 100 to 150 feet. Other climbers used their cell phones to contact park rangers
The rangers were flown to the summit of Longs Peak via helicopter and reached the man’s body at approximately 4 p.m. His body was recovered by a long line helicopter operation at 5:40 p.m. and transferred to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office. His name has not been released.
Longs is one of the most popular Colorado 14ers with over 15,000 attempts each year and a 50% success rate. It is consider attainable by the normal Keyhole route, but the Park Service provides stern warnings about underestimating the route.
I have summited Longs 42 times and use it as my training peak for Himalayan mountains. Longs has extensive coverage on my website
The section where this fatality occurred is a relatively short section of maybe 1,000 feet (300 meters) but as the name implies it starts very narrow, perhaps 3 feet (1 meter) in width. To the climber’s left is a 300′ vertical rock wall and to the right a 200′ drop onto rock.
This section can accumulate snow and ice throughout the year, including summer, so it is advisable to always carry microspikes at a minimum and to turn back if you are not prepared (or experienced) or the route is extremely icy.
Reports from other climbers over the weekend said the Keyhole route from the Keyhole feature upwards was “… covered in frost and ice and there was snow in the trough”
About 62 people have died on Longs with falls representing 60% of the casualties. There were eight deaths from falls off the extremely technical Diamond, followed by six off the Ledges on the Keyhole route then five off the Narrows including this event.1
On June 6, 2013 I summited Longs for the 30th time. I climbed up via the Keyhole route and descended using the Loft route. It was spring weather with winter climbing conditions above 12,000′. This 12 minute video takes you through the climb from start to finish: 10 hours, 5500′ gain, 14 miles roundtrip.
My condolences to the climbers family and friends of the deceased this weekend.
Memories are Everything