Pitkin Sheriff’s office suspends search for missing Maroon Bells climber

Staff report

ASPEN — Authorities have suspended the search for a New Mexico man who went missing in the Maroon-Bells Snowmass Wilderness area.

“After eight days of searching for missing Albuquerque climber David Cook with no results, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is suspending the search,” according to a statement issued at 4:17 p.m. Thursday.

Cook, 49, is described as a white male approximately 5 feet, 10 inches and weighing 175 pounds. He has short brown-gray hair and light eyes. He was last seen wearing an earth-tone colored shirt, a blue jacket, a black backpack and khaki pants. Cook reportedly was carrying a blue climbing helmet and is described by his friends and family as friendly and outgoing, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The incident-management team conducted multiple ground and air searches over the eight days following Cook’s disappearance. Cook was reported missing to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 20 after not returning from a climb in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area.

During the investigation by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, deputies learned that Cook had arrived at the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area shortly after 11 a.m. on Sept. 19. Deputies learned that Cook had been seen on Monday hiking near the trail to Maroon Peak. Additionally, Cook’s cellphone pinged cell towers in Aspen and Gunnison County later on Sept. 19.

Cook also was reported to have been seen the morning of Sept. 20 by a U.S. Forest Service employee near Maroon Lake, That was the last confirmed sighting of Cook.

The decision to suspend the search operations was a joint decision made by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and rescue personnel. This decision was made after reviewing all search operations to date, current leads and information obtained from the public. If new information is presented in the future, search operations may resume, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Participating in the search were Mountain Rescue Aspen, Flight for Life, Careflight, Alpine Search and Rescue, Summit County, Rocky Mountain Rescue, Vail Search and Rescue, Garfield County Search and Rescue, Gunnison County Search and Rescue and the U.S. Forest Service.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office requests that anyone sees or believes they have seen Cook to call 970-920-5300.


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