American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Colorado, Turkey Creek Canyon

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Colorado, Turkey Creek Canyon (2)—On September 20, Donald E. Powell (18) was killed while descending into Turkey Creek Canyon from U.S. 285. The boy apparently lost his footing on steep grass. He was exploring in the area with relatives. It was estimated he slipped and rolled 60 feet, landing in a pile of rocks in the canyon floor.

Source: Denver Post (William E. Davis, Safety Chairman, Colorado Mountaineering Club).

Analysis (Davis): This accident probably is a borderline one from a mountaineering standpoint. It emphasizes, however, the need for caution on the part of all visitors to mountainous areas. The Turkey Creek Canyon is a steep, cliffed area not far from metropolitan Denver. It attracts amateur and professional mountaineers alike (The Colorado Mountain Club Mountaineering Schools are held in the general vicinity). The objective dangers are the same for all. It is perhaps significant that there have been few injuries and fatalities in the experienced parties visiting the area but that the groups unable to assess the dangers have had frequent accidents.

The responsibility of climbing clubs in alerting the general public to the objective dangers of the mountains also is involved. A constant educational program is needed to remind the public of the correct precautions to prevent accidents and the proper action in case of accident. The Powell boy had been in Colorado only two weeks before his fatal visit to the hills; one wonders if he knew of the potential dangers of them. (This accident also demonstrates the hazard of steep grass slopes— these can be so steep and dangerous that crampons are necessary—ed.)

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