Front Range man dies after fall from traverse between Maroon, North Maroon peaks near Aspen
A 43-year-old Front Range man died Friday afternoon after falling more than 500 feet from the traverse between Maroon and North Maroon peaks, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
The man fell into a narrow gully to the southeast of the summit of North Maroon, according to a news release Friday night, and “based on the injuries the climber had sustained, the fall was not survivable.” It is estimated he fell between 500 and 1,000 feet.
The man, who is from Niwot, near Boulder, was by himself, Pitkin County Sgt. Dustin Gray said Friday evening. The man’s name has not been released pending the notification of his family. This is the first fatal climbing accident of the season in the area.
Gray said they received at a call at 12:30 p.m. of an incident on the Maroon Bells between the summits of the 14,000-foot peaks. Two climbers on the summit of North Maroon Peak called to say they saw a “solo male climber fall from the ridgeline while traversing between (the peaks).”
Just before 1:45 p.m, Mountain Rescue Aspen teams went into the field. One group was flown in by the U.S. Army National Guard High Altitude Aviation Training Site (HAATS) helicopter, two teams entered the field on foot and
another rescue team was stationed at Maroon Lake with a helicopter from CareFlight of the Rockies, according to the news release.
About an hour later, the HAATS helicopter team spotted the climber and MRA rescuers were lowered by a long line from the helicopter to the man, and they confirmed he was dead.
The crew and the man were lifted out of the area and flown to the Aspen airport.
“Somewhere along the traverse between Maroon and North Maroon peaks, we’re unsure of how and what happened … the third climber fell,” Gray said just after 5 p.m. Friday. “We’re still waiting to talk to the two climbers who were up there with him.”
The route between the peaks is very technical and requires ropes, harnesses, helmets and other technical mountain climbing gear, a longtime Aspen-area guide said Friday night.
It is the 10th fatal climbing accident since 2000 on the Maroon Bells, and first since a 61-year-old man died in July 2019 after a 200-foot fall off Maroon Peak.
Before that, two people died in 2017.
In May 2017, Rei Hwa Lee, 57 of Littleton, “fell to her death on the north face of North Maroon Peak” and was located roughly two days later by members of Mountain Rescue Aspen, officials said then.
Jeffrey Bushroe, 27, who was a soldier at Fort Carson, was found dead May 27 by another hiker. Bushroe, of Tucson, Arizona, died from “hypothermia hours after a tumble he took in the Grand Couloir at the Maroon Bells secondary to confusion from a brain injury,” officials said at the time.
This is a developing story that will be updated.