American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock—Dislodged Rock, Weather, Colorado, Snowmass Mountain

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004


Colorado, Snowmass Mountain

They’d waited a year to take another stab at summiting Snowmass Mountain after weather forced them to turn back last summer. On Saturday, two climbing buddies finally reached their goal, only to have their celebration end in tragedy.

A fluke accident coming down the mountain claimed the life of a 51-year- old Littleton hiker, who tumbled to his death as his horrified friend watched. Steve Castellano fell about 150 feet at 1:30 p.m. after he put his hand on a loose rock that was apparently teetering on soil softened by recent rain. “The rock gave way, which made him pitch forward,” said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Mario Strobl. “That caused him to fall head over heels.” Castellano’s friend, Bill Sudmeier of Denver, ran to the climber’s aid. Sudmeier pressed a bandanna against a bleeding head wound and cradled his fellow climber in his arms while others in the area hiked out for help. Another passer-by attempted CPR, but Castellano died about a half-hour later. (From an article by Sarah Huntley, Rocky Mountain News, August 18, 2003)


There have been a number of fatalities on Snowmass over the years, especially on the hiking routes, and often involving dislodged rocks. The sedimentary rock formation is an inherent peril, always made worse by rain. Source: Jed Williamson)

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