Search finds Capitol Peak climbers | AspenTimes.com

Search finds Capitol Peak climbers

Staff report

An emergency helicopter check Sunday morning of two climbers who were reporting missing in the Snowmass Wilderness revealed that they were both OK, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office.

Early Saturday morning, four climbers from North Dakota started out on an attempt on the Capitol Peak summit, about 10 miles southwest of Aspen. Later in the night, the Sheriff's Office learned that two of them were overdue from the rest of their party.

The climbers were identified as Cody Devlin, Paul Kummer, Tyson Burkle and another, unknown climber. Devlin and the unknown party took the standard route while Kummer and Burkle attempted the more difficult northwest buttress, a steep and challenging climb, the Sheriff's Office said.

Devlin and his partner were able to summit and return to base camp at the Capitol Peak trailhead by about 6 p.m. Devlin had not seen or heard from Kummer or Burkle by about 9 p.m., so he called the Aspen-Pitkin County Emergency Communications Office to report them as overdue, the Sheriff's Office said.

The Sheriff's Office notified Mountain Rescue Aspen, which began preparations for a morning rescue. Around 6 a.m. Sunday, the rescue organization called for an air search from Flight for Life, an emergency helicopter service with an office in Summit County. Flight for Life sent a helicopter team to the area.

Around 7 a.m. Sunday, Flight for Life notified Mountain Rescue Aspen of two climbers on the northwest face of Capitol Peak. The two climbers appeared to have spent the night on a ledge approximately 1,000 feet from the summit. The climbers gave a "thumbs up" sign to the helicopter team to indicate they were OK.

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Soon after, Mountain Rescue Aspen canceled preparations to send in a ground team for the overdue party and the Sheriff's Office terminated the incident, the Sheriff's Office said.