Rescued hiker called unprepared |

Rescued hiker called unprepared

VAIL, Colorado ” Authorities describe a man who got stuck on Mount of the Holy Cross as unprepared for the steep, rocky route he tried to ascend.

“They weren’t skilled and prepared to go up the route they took,” said Shannon Cordingly, of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

Robert Smith, 22, was rescued with help from a Black Hawk helicopter Saturday evening on the 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross.

Rescuers from the Vail Mountain Rescue Group had to rappel 400 feet down steep terrain in Angelica Couloir to rescue the Fort Collins man.

Dan Smith, of the rescue group, described the terrain as an “almost vertical” rock face.

“A lot of people climb it,” Dan Smith said. “Most don’t do it without a helmet and a rope.”

Robert Smith had neither, Dan Smith said. Robert Smith called 911 after he realized he was stuck on a ledge. The rescue began at 10:24 a.m., and he was rescued at 7:30 p.m.

A Black Hawk helicopter from the High-Altitude Army Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, which carried the volunteers, landed near the summit, Cordingly said.

“We got lucky there happened to be a helicopter and crew available,” Dan Smith said.

The man was brought back up to the mountain ridge with ropes and was then flown off the mountain.

Robert Smith was climbing the mountain with a hiking partner, but the two separated before Robert Smith got stuck, Dan Smith said. Robert Smith’s hiking partner ascended a different route up the Angelica Couloir, Dan Smith said.

“If people didn’t separate, we (the Vail Mountain Rescue Group) would have half the business we have,” Dan Smith.

This is the third September in a row in which the rescue group has had to do a similar rescue on Holy Cross, whether in the Angelica Couloir or another couloir, Dan Smith said.

On these steep rock faces, climbers often reach a point where they aren’t skilled enough to go any higher, but they’re too tired to descend the way they came up, Dan Smith said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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