Climber rescued from Maroon Bells near Aspen |

Climber rescued from Maroon Bells near Aspen

Staff report

A 48-year-old climber was rescued from the Maroon Bells on Thursday when he decided the snow conditions were not stable enough for him to descend the peaks.

The man from Evans called Pitkin County dispatch from his cellphone at approximately 2:11 p.m. on Thursday. The climber was located in the area known as “the saddle” at about 13,700 feet.

“The climber said that he had been climbing the Maroon Bells peaks but the snow conditions had deteriorated to a point where he no longer felt safe descending,” a statement from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said.

The climber said he would wait on the saddle for cooler temperatures in the evening and then try to descend, but at 6:20 p.m., he sent a text message to a sheriff’s deputy saying that the snow had not consolidated and “that he felt he was stranded,” the statement said.

Climbing conditions were assessed to be too dangerous for a team on foot, so a Blackhawk helicopter crew from the High Altitude Aviation Training Site in Gypsum flew to the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport and picked up a team of two Mountain Rescue Aspen members. Within about 20 minutes, the crew had retrieved the climber and landed at the airport.

All members of Mountain Rescue Aspen were out of the field by 10 p.m.

“The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office reminds everyone enjoying the backcountry to plan wisely for rapidly changing conditions including weather, snow, stream levels and daylight hours,” the statement said.


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