Missing hiker found dead in San Juan Mountains near Lake City

Ben Brownlee / Photo courtesy Colorado Mountain Club

Ben Brownlee / Photo courtesy Colorado Mountain Club

LAKE CITY, Colo. — A hiker who was reported missing Sunday has been found dead after a two-day search in the San Juan Mountains near Lake City, according to the Hisndale County Office of Emergency Management.

Ben Brownlee, 26, of Denver was reported missing Sunday, after he failed to return from a solo hiking trip.

Emergency managers said Brownlee, “an experienced and avid hiker,” was last seen by a fellow hiker on Saturday morning, when he was descending Unnamed Peak 13832. His general itinerary was to hike 13,000-foot peaks in the Lake City area of the San Juans.

The search for Brownlee began early Monday morning, when searchers found his car at the trailhead of Redcloud and Sunshine peaks. On Monday, helicopters and crews on the ground searched the area where Brownlee told friends he would be hiking.

On Tuesday, the search continued with more than a dozen search and rescue personnel on foot along with Brownlee’s family and friends. Brownlee was found with the use of a private helicopter chartered by his family, according to emergency managers. Friends spotted and identified his body around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Brownlee was found about 75 to 100 feet below a steep rocky ridge southeast of Cooper Creek Peak. The ridge runs between Cooper Creek Trail and Silver Creek Trail off of County Road 30, southwest of Lake City along the Alpine Loop.

Recovery of Brownlee’s body will begin Wednesday morning.

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