American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fatality on Crestone Needle

Colorado, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Crestone Needle

  • Accident Reports
  • Author: The Editors
  • Accident Year: 2016
  • Publication Year: 2017

An experienced 55-year-old mountaineer died in a 100-foot fall from 14,197-foot Crestone Needle in the Sangre de Cristos on July 9. Although he had climbed the peak at least twice, he and his team got off route and into more difficult terrain during their descent. Later the same month, Custer County SAR rescued another climbing team from nearly the same spot. On its website, the SAR team noted, “Despite trailhead kiosks warning of the dangers of descending off route, popular forums such as, and modern navigation tools, SAR teams continue to see climbers encounter difficulty and even death when descending off route, when they choose to continue to descend rather than...climbing back up to find the [correct route].”

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