Wyoming man dies just shy of the summit on Quandary
August 30, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – A man in his 40s died on Mount Quandary just before noon on Friday.
The Wyoming man, whose name has not yet been released, reportedly was in cardiac arrest before he died, according to a press release from Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson.
The death occurred on the mountain’s east ridge at about 14,000 feet.
Summit County Rescue coordinator Joe Ben Slivka said the call came in at 11:19 a.m.
A physician who happened to be in the vicinity attempted CPR on the man, who was ultimately declared dead at the scene.
Slivka said two groups were sent to extract the body. A group of nine departed from the Quandary Peak trailhead on foot at about 12:15 p.m. A group of four flew via Flight For Life helicopter to an area below the scene.
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Summit Rescue spokeswoman Anna DeBattiste said that at 5 p. m., the team carried the body down in a litter to an elevation of about 13,200 feet. She said it could be past nightfall by the time the operation was complete.
Red, White and Blue Fire District battalion chief Russ Austin said the helicopter didn’t retrieve the body for a number of reasons.
“Anytime they fly that high it’s a hazard for the air crew because of the extreme altitude,” he said. “They go as high as they can, where they have a good landing zone.”
The helicopter was low on fuel. And dropping people off is much easier than picking them up.
“If you fly people up, they can jump out, but you can’t reverse the process,” Austin said, adding that the helicopter must be landed and stable for a body to be loaded. “It’s not the same as four healthy adults jumping off the aircraft maybe [a few] feet off the ground.”
The base of operations was near the intersection of Blue Lakes Road and Highway 9.
The rescue team, fire department, Summit County Sheriff’s Office, Summit County Ambulance Service and the Red Cross all had staff on the scene.
DeBattiste said rescue personnel from Park and Clear Creek counties were also sent.
This year appears to be following a trend in 2008, when Quandary operations for Summit County Rescue hit nine calls. Rescuers have been called at least six times this year to what’s known in many guidebooks as one of the easier fourteeners.