Tuesday, August 22, 2017

NEWS: UPDATED More Tragedy, Couple Found Dead on Capitol Peak (8/22/2017)

missing couple found dead on Capitol Peak
The North Face of Capitol Peak, a mountain that has
claimed the lives of four mountaineers in just over a month
The extreme year for accidents in the Elk Range persists. A couple described as "in their mid to late 20's" were found dead on Capitol Peak today. The reports were mixed, some describing the location of the bodies as "near the summit" and others saying they were "at the base of the north face." Given the steepness and scale of this aspect of the mountain, these two reports would appear contradictory.

According to sources, the couple had "tentative plans" and many suspected they might have stayed longer than expected in the area to view Monday's eclipse. This confusion led to a lapse in reaction time in the search for the missing couple. Once it was clear they had not returned as planned, a search was mounted which led to the discovery of the bodies.

According to a press release by the Pitkin County Sheriff Department, witnesses on the mountain the day of the accident, which is thought to have occurred on Sunday, suggested the couple likely summited the mountain but may have decided to descend via a different route. Those familiar with Capitol Peak know that there is no viable route for descent besides the standard Northeast Ridge, especially without ropes.

Though the names of the deceased have not been officially released pending notification of next of kin, Aspen Public Radio is reporting that someone close to victims has released their names. You can find their article at this link.

This latest accident tops off what has been a grim, record-setting year for the Elk Range. Four climbers have been killed on Capitol Peak and an additional two have been killed on the Maroon Bells. These peaks, renowned for their beauty, are notoriously dangerous to climb and have proven fatal for many adventurers over the years.

A story published in January on Colorado Mountaineering analyzing the deaths on Colorado's 14ers since 2010 and showed that the Elk Range hosts an abnormal percentage of fatal accidents on Colorado's 14ers.

UPDATED (8/23/17) The deceased have been identified as Carlin Brightwell and Ryan Marcil. The couple was described as having dated for a number of months and recently moving in together. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of these victims.


RELATED HEADLINES

-Climber Dies on Capitol Peak (7/19/2017)
-Another Climber Killed on Capitol Peak (8/6/2017)
-Statistical Analysis of 14er Deaths this Decade (2010-2016)

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

NEWS: Missing Woman Found Dead on North Maroon Peak (8/8/2017)

Rei Hwa Lee was found dead on North Maroon Peak in August 2017
The Maroon Bells. The North Face of North Maroon
is prominently visible right of center, to the right of the tree
A hiker who had been missing since Sunday was found dead on the North Face of North Maroon Peak today. It has been reported that Rei Hwa Lee, 57, of Littleton was found by Mountain Rescue Aspen this morning shortly after 11 am according to a story posted by the Aspen Times. This news comes only two days after another death on nearby Capitol Peak.

Though the exact line taken by Lee is difficult to determine from reports, the North Face of North Maroon is a non-standard route known for its precarious rock and steep exposure. Lee was hiking alone at the time.

As Colorado Mountaineering reported in January, the Maroon Bells have proven to be some of the most dangerous 14ers in the state. Combined with Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and Longs Peak, these five mountains have accounted for half of the fatal accidents on all 14ers this decade. This latest tragedy marks the fourth death on an Elk Range 14er this year and the sixth death on a 14er this year across the state.

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

NEWS: Another Climber Dies on Capitol Peak (8/6/2017) *UPDATED*

The Knife Edge on Capitol Peak, site of a fatal accident this morning
A climber died this morning from an apparent fall from the infamous Knife Edge on Capitol Peak. According to a report on 9news.com, the hiker fell from the notoriously exposed crux of the mountain that is oft-touted as Colorado's hardest 14er. Friends who were with the victim said he fell to east side of the skinny ridgeline.

A recovery team was inserted on the scene by helicopter but determined the injuries were too severe to warrant a rescue. The inaccessible terrain and unfavorable weather conditions made recovery too dangerous. The recovery operation was hoped to resume on Wednesday.

As of yet the victim has only been identified as a "male." This is the second fatal accident on the infamous Elk Range 14er. Twenty-five-year-old Jake Lord was killed in mid-July when a boulder he was clinging to broke free, causing him to fall several hundred feet.

Though accidents on the Knife Edge are rare, this particular section has been the site of several fatal accidents in the past. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the victim.

*UPDATE (8/11)* After what rescuers described as "one of the most difficult recoveries in decades" volunteers from Mountain Rescue Aspen were able to retrieve the body of the man who fell from Capitol Peak. While early reports indicated he had fallen from the infamous feature known as the Knife Edge, it is now being said that the victim had not yet reached that portion of the route but was "in-between K2 and the Knife Edge."

The deceased has been identified as Jeremy Shull, a 35-year-old from Parker, Colorado. Shull was married with a 2-month-old baby.

A detailed account of the rescue operation was reported in Aspen Times

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