Ex-Rocky Mountain Park ranger, rescuer dies while climbing | VailDaily.com

Ex-Rocky Mountain Park ranger, rescuer dies while climbing

By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press

DENVER (AP) — A former Rocky Mountain National Park climbing ranger and respected mountain rescue specialist has died following a climbing accident, officials and a family friend said Friday.

The body of 60-year-old Jim Detterline was found Tuesday outside Allenspark, where he lived.

Detterline had been climbing alone in a series of rocky outcrops called the Ironclads, said Vanessa Polcari, a family friend who was speaking for the family.

His border collie, Annie, stayed with him until he was found, she said.

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Department said Detterline was wearing climbing gear and had major injuries consistent with a fall.

The coroner is not expected to make a formal ruling on the cause of death for several weeks.

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Detterline was a park ranger from 1987 to 2009, including a stint as supervisory climbing ranger.

He received the U.S. Interior Department’s Valor Award for helping rescue two people from a frigid river in the park in 1995. Officials said he waded into the river to keep the victims from being washed over a waterfall while other rangers set up rescue gear.

“He was regarded across the country for his rescue capabilities,” said his friend Tom Hornbein, who climbed Mount Everest in 1963.

“There were many. Some were spectacular,” said Hornbein, who now lives in Estes Park.

Detterline took part in multiple rescues on Longs Peak, a challenging and popular summit. At 14,259 feet, it is the highest mountain in the park and the 15th highest in the state.

Detterline was passionate about Longs Peak and climbed it more than 400 times, said Hornbein, a physician who served on the faculty at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

“He was Mr. Longs Peak,” he said.

Mark Pita, acting chief ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park, praised Detterline’s devotion.

“Jim Detterline gave years of dedicated service to Rocky Mountain National Park and Longs Peak, in particular,” Pita said in a statement.

He added: “Jim led countless rescues, and saved many lives along the way. Jim cared deeply for his fellow staff members, and will be remembered for his generous heart.”

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Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/dan-elliott.