The body of a 61-year-old man who died Wednesday on Maroon Peak was helicoptered out of the backcountry late Thursday afternoon, an official said.
The identity of the man, who was not from the Aspen area, was not available Thursday night pending notification of next of kin, said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Quinton Wheatley. The death marked the first casualty of the summer climbing season.
Pitkin County emergency dispatchers were first alerted at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday to the situation by an “S.O.S. activation of a hand-held beacon at approximately 12,600 feet on the standard (climbing) route of Maroon Peak,” according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. Further investigation revealed a climber in a three-person climbing party had fallen about 200 feet and was dead, the release states.
The “two surviving members of the climbing party were still on the mountain and had attempted to resuscitate the fallen climber but were unsuccessful in their efforts,” the release states.
A fourth member of the climbing party had declined to accompany the others on the Maroon Peak summit, but was in contact with his colleagues by walkie-talkie, said Jesse Steindler, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office patrol captain. That man was able to walk out and alert authorities to the situation around 7 p.m., he said.
Five Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers entered the field about 9 p.m., following the standard Maroon Peak route, and encountered the two survivors two hours later on the trail, according to the news release.
“The two climbers, having started their climb approximately 22 hours earlier, were exhausted and dehydrated but uninjured,” the release states.
The two men and MRA volunteers arrived at the Maroon Bells parking lot about 2 a.m.
Three more MRA climbers left the parking lot about 6 a.m. Thursday and located the body four hours later. They placed the man’s body in a body bag and were able to slide it to the valley floor at 11,307 feet, where a helicopter from the state’s Fire Prevention and Control department secured it about 3:40 p.m. with a “long-line” and flew it to the parking lot, according to the release. From there, the man’s body was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital.
Pitkin County Coroner Dr. Steve Ayers said no information about the man was available Thursday night.
Maroon Peak — also known as South Maroon Peak — is 14,163 feet high.
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