American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Falling Rock — Colorado, Mount Aeolus

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1985


Colorado, Mount Aeolus

On July 6, 1984, Joseph Stolla (37), an experienced climber and an attorney from Englewood, Colorado, fell to his death from Mount Aeolus when a large block of rock broke off. A month later, a hiker named Paul Rockwood (20) from California fell 200 meters to his death from the precipitous South Ridge. (Source: Peggy Parr, El Paso County Search and Rescue)


The climbing victim, about whom we have few details, was experienced and using appropriate equipment when the accident occurred. The hiking victim had left his companion, continuing up a technical route on the 4300 meter mountain wearing tennis shoes and having left behind his pack containing warm clothes. There was a hail storm of several centimeters while he was likely near the summit.

The Chicago Basin, which is a rugged area, is accessible to everyone because of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Experienced climbers call Chicago Basin “a Disneyland of tourists with a false sense of security.” The mountain contains many places with extreme exposure, and is composed of eroding rock. (Source: Peggy Parr, El Paso County Search and Rescue)

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