CUSTER COUNTY, Colo. — A climber died after falling from the Crestone Traverse last Wednesday. Custer County Search & Rescue (SAR) was able to retrieve the remains of the fallen climber and rescue another.
Custer County SAR was called for two climbers from Denver who were located approximately 13,800 ft. near the Crestone Traverse in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains.
According to the SAR team, the two climbers had gotten off-route when one of the climbers fatally fell from the mountain. The other climber had attempted to climb down to reach her fallen partner but became cliffed out, meaning she was unable to ascend or descend safely from that point.
The climber was able to immediately call for help through her Garmin inReach, a self-sustained GPS Satellite communication device, and further communicate with first responders on her cell phone.
The SAR team said the timing of the communication was critical due to the threat of dangerous weather moving into the area, which would have made rescue difficult or impossible.
With helicopter support from the Division of Fire Prevention and Control Cañon City Helitack and Custer County SAR’s Technical Rope Rescue Team, the climber and the remains of her fallen companion were successfully retrieved from the mountain.
“We send our deep condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of the deceased climber and his partner,” said Custer County SAR.
Custer County SAR said that careful and precise route-finding is imperative when climbing in the Crestone Group as the consequences are extremely high.
Regardless of skill or experience, backcountry accidents can happen to anyone, SAR added.
As the monsoon season continues, hikers were urged to check detailed, pinpoint weather forecasts.
“With questionable weather conditions, choosing your route is important. In some cases, simply reversing direction is not possible,” stated Custer County SAR.
This may mean an earlier start or a willingness to turn around if weather moves in before climbers are off the peaks. Climbers should carry effective rain gear and have enough food, water, and clothing to spend the night out should something go wrong.
Custer County SAR also recommends carrying two-way communication/GPS devices, cell phones, and extra batteries/charging blocks as well as leaving a detailed trip itinerary with someone who can report missing parties if needed.