CRESTONE– One climber died in a fall and his partner had to be rescued Wednesday on the Crestone Traverse, a passage between Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle, according to the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO). Both parties were reported to be from the Denver area.
SCSO reported that the two climbers were at approximately 13,800 feet near the Crestone Traverse and had gotten off-route when one member sustained a fatal fall. The other member climbed down to reach him and was unable to ascend or descend safely from that point.
She was able to immediately call for help through her Garmin inReach and further communicated with rescuers on her cell phone. The timing of the communication was critical because of the threat of weather moving into the area. With helicopter support from DFPC Canon City Helitack, two members of Custer County SAR Technical Rope Rescue Team were able to reach both members of the climbing party and successfully bring them out of the field.
Careful and precise route-finding is imperative when climbing in the Crestone Group as the consequences are extremely high, SCSO reminded climbers in a Facebook post.
“Additionally, regardless of skill or experience, backcountry accidents can happen to anyone. As the monsoon season continues, we urge folks to check detailed/pinpoint weather forecasts,” SCSO wrote. “With questionable weather conditions, choosing your route is important - in some cases, simply reversing direction is not possible. This may mean an earlier start and a willingness to turn around if you aren't moving fast enough to be off the peaks before weather moves in.
“And as always, be sure to carry effective rain gear and have enough food, water, and clothing to spend a night out should something go wrong. We also recommend carrying two-way communication/GPS devices, cell phones, and extra batteries/charging blocks as well as leaving a detailed trip itinerary with someone.