American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Rockslide, Colorado, Mount Wilson, El Diente Traverse

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2011

FALL ON ROCK, ROCKSLIDE

Colorado, Mount Wilson, El Diente Traverse

During the morning of July 26, a group of seven climbers were traversing the ridge between Mount Wilson (14,246 feet) and El Diente (14,159 feet) peaks, one of Colorado’s four classic 14’er traverses.

According to reports, a group of four climbers Peter Topp (59), Charlie Zimmerman (60), Kathy (36), and Shawn Sullivan were on their way from Mount Wilson to meet with three unidentified climbers who had reached the summit of El Diente. The three were heading toward the others when they heard the sound of falling rocks and cries for help.

During the ensuing rockslide, Topp was rendered unconscious and later died from blunt force trauma to his head and body. Zimmerman sustained a head injury and internal injuries and with support was able to descend from 14,000 feet to a landing zone some 700 feet below. Kathy Donnelly had to be transported to the landing zone in a litter after dislocating and fracturing her hip in the accident. Shawn Sullivan was uninjured.

Members of the San Miguel Search and Rescue team were dropped off by helicopter about 800 vertical feet below the scene and had to climb to reach the climbers. The two injured climbers were lowered by rope systems to an area where a helicopter could make a safe landing. Rescuers had to wait out several hail and lightning storms that grounded the helicopters. (Source: Edited from postings on July 27 www.14ers.com)

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