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Climber killed after falling from Colorado 14er

Search and Rescue helicopter during the Sept. 11-12 operation.
Search and Rescue helicopter during the Sept. 11-12 operation.(Gage Rothrock, Custer County Search and Rescue)
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 9:01 AM MDT
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CUSTER COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - A climber was killed on a Colorado 14er over the weekend after falling hundreds of feet off the mountain.

Custer County Search and Rescue confirmed Sunday it had recovered the body of the 44-year-old male climber.

The climber was reported missing Saturday after failing to return from climbing Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle, a pair of conjoined 14ers in Custer County. A team flew over the mountains and spotted the climber’s body roughly 300 feet below the ridge that connects the peaks.

“It appeared as though the climber had fallen and sustained fatal injuries,” Custer County Search and Rescue wrote in a Facebook post.

Search and Rescue said that because of how treacherous the terrain is in that location and the difficulty of the recovery, the team decided it was safest to wait until first light Sunday to commence the operation.

“On Sunday, Sept. 12, four CCSAR Technical Rope Rescue team members were inserted via DFPC [Division of Fire Protection and Control-Canon City] helicopter into the field to begin climbing to reach the subject. The terrain in this area has loose, crumbling rock, which increased the difficulty for the search teams. T he team reached the subject at approximately 1020. He was airlifted out to the Saguache County coroner. All teams were out of the field by 1430. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of this climber,” Custer County Search and Rescue said.

Bagging the Crestone peaks is one of the more dangerous climbing endeavors in the state, and falls and other accidents do happen most seasons. Custer County SAR says the climber killed over the weekend was experienced and prepared, but even so, should not have set out alone.

“Custer County Search and Rescue would like to remind the public and recreational climbers that climbing solo can increase the risk of a catastrophic event. This climber was well-prepared, carried a Garmin inReach, and had extensive climbing experience. Even with the best preparation, accidents happen, and the consequences are much more severe when miles into the backcountry. We advise that you research your route, know your limits, and carry enough food, water and gear to spend an extra night out at elevation. For more information on climbing in this area, go to Custersar.org and click on Rescue Patterns. Stay safe out there.”

The victim has not been identified.

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