Colorado man died on one of toughest U.S. ice climbs |

Colorado man died on one of toughest U.S. ice climbs

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
This May 18, 2011 photo provided by Cindy Foley shows Jack Roberts on the Mini Moonflower Buttress of Mount Hunter in the Alaska Range within Denali National Park, Alaska. Roberts, 58, died Sunday Jan. 15, 2012 after a fall while climbing on the Bridal Veil Ice Falls east of Telluride, Colo. Jack Roberts suffered a broken hip in Sunday’s fall and went into cardiac arrest during the rescue. Members of the San Miguel County Search and Rescue Team spent 40 minutes trying to resuscitate him. Roberts had been a climber for more than 40 years and was well known in the climbing community as a guide and instructor. (AP Photo/Cindy Foley)
AP | Cindy Foley

TELLURIDE, Colo. – A nationally known ice climber who died after falling 60 feet in Colorado over the weekend was attempting to ascend a 365-foot waterfall regarded as one of the toughest ice climbs in the United States.

Jack Roberts, 59, was leading a climb at Bridal Veil Falls on Sunday when he fell, injuring his hip and possibly sustaining internal injuries, authorities said. He survived the long drop but died of cardiac arrest after rescue workers arrived.

Bridal Veil Falls is at the end of a box canyon near Telluride, a ski resort town where Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank in 1889.

Roberts wrote an authoritative book on ice climbing in Colorado and also worked as a guide and instructor, recently teaching an ice climbing course in Telluride. He climbed for more than 40 years, traveling to Alaska, Argentina and several locations in the Alps.

The Boulder resident was the second person ever to have ascended the falls. In a 2009 YouTube video, he called the climb “special.”

“It offers the climber the opportunity to climb just about anywhere on its surface, and experience climbing in a very unique and special way that becomes more personal than if you’re on the rock,” he said in the video.

But San Juan Mountain Guides director Clint Cook told the Grand Junction Sentinel that because of how challenging it is, “even when you do everything right, bad things can happen” at Bridal Veil Falls.

According to the Telluride Daily Planet, Roberts’s climbing partner cried for help after the fall. Two hikers who heard the shouts called 911.

The fall wasn’t caused by ice conditions, said Emil Sante, a search and rescue team member who is also San Miguel County’s coroner. An autopsy was ordered for Tuesday morning to find out if the fall was caused by if medical problems. The internal bleeding may have played a role in Roberts’ death, Sante said.

“He said himself that he didn’t know how he fell,” Sante said. “We have a few ideas about what may have contributed to the fall and the speed of his death, but they’re just hunches.”

Roberts is survived by his wife, who was in Cuba with the Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization when she received notification of the accident.

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