American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Long's Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1967

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Long’s Peak. On 27 August, C. Blake Hiester, Jr. (48), Richard Hiester (18), Pete DiLeo (19), and Nelson Gieseke were attempting Kiener’s Route (4th Class) on the east face of Long’s Peak. They had accomplished a difficult crossing of Lamb’s Slide and had proceeded across Broadway Ledge to the Notch Chimneys (13,300 feet). At that point they were unroped and remained so to a place where the route leaves the traverse and continues up. The victim started up somewhat off the regular route (there are several variations of increasing difficulty). The exact point from where he fell and the cause of the fall is unknown. According to his son, he declined a belay just before he fell. His son made a futile attempt to catch him on Broadway, but he rolled off the down sloping 5 ft. ledge and fell 1,250 feet down an 80° face. The remainder of the party realized that retreat from this point would be extremely dangerous, so continued roped to the summit arriving there at 6:30 p.m. They descended the Cable Route on the north face and were met at Chasm View by the patrol ranger who escorted them to the Long’s Peak Ranger Station.

Source: Don D. Bachman, Park Ranger, Long’s Peak Ranger Station.

Analysis: It was six years since the victim had climbed this route. They were probably hurrying in the face of an approaching thunderstorm. The approach (6½ miles) and their slowness on the route (5 hrs. climbing to this point vs. 3 hrs. normal time) probably indicated fatigue. To continue up on any route or variation from this point while unroped is folly (stiff 4th Class). The easiest (regular) route is around the corner from the approximate location of the fall.

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