Climber’s body removed from Capitol Peak after ‘difficult’ recovery; Parker man ID’d

The 14,130-foot Capitol Peak is located about 14 miles west of Aspen in the Elk Mountains.
Anna Stonehouse / The Aspen Times |

Volunteers with Mountain Rescue Aspen spent a taxing nine hours Wednesday recovering the body of a Parker man from inside a crevasse on Capitol Peak, sources said.

“In talking with the guys from Mountain Rescue Aspen, it was probably one of the most difficult recoveries in the last couple of decades,” said Michael Buglione of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, who served as incident commander for the recovery efforts. “Mostly because of the depth and steepness of the crevasse and (the body’s) location.”

The climber was identified as 35-year-old Jeremy Shull, who fell Sunday from the east side of the ridge between K2 and the Knife Edge on his way up the 14,130-foot peak, according to Buglione and a news release from the Sheriff’s Office. Previous reports indicated he fell from the Knife Edge, a 100-foot-long horizontal stretch of ridge with steep drops on either side on the way to the summit, though Buglione said Shull hadn’t yet reached it.

Shull, an addiction counselor in Parker, was married with a 2-month-old son, and was an experienced climber, Buglione said.

Shull was climbing with three friends Sunday, who were behind him when he reached the point from which he fell, according to the news release. Another group of climbers in front of Shull heard him fall while his friends were out of his sight, the release states. A person behind Shull’s group called 911 about 8:20 a.m. Sunday.

Later that day, an MRA member climbed down to the top of the crevasse where Shull landed and confirmed he was dead “based on the condition of the body,” according to the news release. Recovery efforts were postponed until Wednesday because of dangerous weather conditions near the treacherous peak.

When the weather cleared, however, those recovery efforts were difficult, dramatic and dangerous, Buglione said.

First, a pilot with the Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control flew a team of three MRA members on a helicopter reconnaissance flight of the location of the body, he said.

“The pilot was confident he could get a hook in there so they would not have to up-haul the body,” Buglione said.

The pilot dropped the team of MRA volunteers off near K2, then flew back to retrieve a second team of three MRA members, he said. The six were then able to scramble down to the top of the crevasse and set up anchors and ropes to rappel down to the body, Buglione said.

After putting Shull into a body bag, they called the helicopter pilot, who flew back and was able to drop the hook within arm’s reach of the MRA members inside the crevasse, Buglione said. They fastened the hook to the body bag and the helicopter flew it back to Hay Park on Capitol Creek Road, he said.

All MRA volunteers were out of the field by 3 p.m., after starting their day at 6 a.m. at a planning meeting at MRA headquarters on Highway 82, he said.

Buglione said he met with Shull’s family Wednesday and explained the recovery effort in detail. A crowdfunding page has been set up to help the family.

Mountain Rescue Aspen has been busy in the past week and a half, which prompted a nod from the Sheriff’s Office, according to the news release.

While also thanking the Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control, the Sheriff’s Office acknowledged “the hard work (of) the all-volunteer Mountain Rescue Aspen, which conducted 10 search and rescue missions in the last 10 days.”

Shull was the second climber to die on Capitol Peak this summer, after Jake Lord, 25, also of Parker, fell to his death in July.


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