Vail hiker ID’d, recovered from Capitol Peak outside of Aspen
Authorities on Sunday recovered the body of deceased climber Ryan Joseph Palmer, 35, of Vail.
Palmer is believed to have fallen 200 to 300 feet on the north face of Capitol Peak, located in Pitkin County, on Friday, according to a press release issued by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
At approximately 7:15 p.m. Friday, Palmer’s hiking companions notified the Sheriff’s Office that Palmer was overdue at their meeting place at Capitol Lake. At the time of the call, they did not know that Palmer had fallen, the news release says.
On Saturday, Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers, with the aid of Bruce Gordon of Eco Flight in Aspen, located Palmer on the snowfield below the north face of Capital Peak.
It was too late then to launch recovery efforts. On Sunday, 11 members of Mountain Rescue, along with the aid of an aircraft from Rifle-based DBS Helicopter Services, recovered Palmer’s body, which was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital.
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The recovery effort concluded at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the press release.
Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jess Steindler said Palmer had been hiking with three friends. He split off, after the group summitted, because he “did not want to renegotiate” the Knife Edge, the standard route to get too and from the summit, on the way down.
“He found a different route going off the north face,” Steindler said.
Located in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wildnerness, Capitol Peak stands 14,130 feet. According to published reports, at least seven climbers have died on the peak before Palmer’s fatality.
Steindler said Capitol Peak is one of the more dangerous 14ers in the state.
“It’s very exposed and known to have an extreme amount of loose rocks,” the deputy said. “A lot of people will turn around (at the Knife Edge). It’s very rugged.”
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It’s no easy task to maintain all of Snowmass Village’s trails each summer season, and it certainly couldn’t be done without the seven dedicated staff members of the parks and trails department.