One Missing Climber Found Alive, Other Deceased

Went missing Wednesday on the Maroon Bells

Oct 10, 2014
Outside Magazine
Aspen Colorado Elk Mountains HDR Maroon Bells Trees autumn north maroon peak elk range pitkin county sheriff's office outside Outside Magazine outside online news from the field.

The Maroon Bells 14ers of Colorado's Elk Range are both some of the most photographed and deadliest mountains in the state.    Greg Willis/Flickr

Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and Mountain Rescue Aspen found two missing climbers, one deceased and one injured, on the Maroon Bells’ North Maroon Peak this Friday afternoon. The climbers went missing in the Elk Mountains on Wednesday.

Rescuers found injured climber David Richardson, 32, of Vail, Colorado, at 11:15 a.m. in the Bell Chord region of the peak’s eastern face; he sustained at least one broken bone. The body of climber Jarod Wetherell, 37, of Avon, was found in the Rock Glacier area of the peak at 12:45 p.m. 

“The area in which they were found is an area where other people have, unfortunately, also been found deceased” and injured, Deputy Alex Burchetta told Outside.

Richardson was transported by helicopter to Aspen Valley Hospital, and Burchetta said rescuers have successfully retrieved Wetherell’s body. Both families have been notified of the accident.

“It is late in the season, and we did have six to seven inches of snow last night,” Burchetta said. “Luckily we got a break in the weather and were able to deploy helicopters … [but] it’s a very technical area to climb and requires extensive knowledge of climbing practices.”

According to the Denver Channel, rescuers began searching for the duo Wednesday after a friend called the sheriff’s office to report them missing. Their car was found at the trailhead Wednesday morning, and three teams from Mountain Rescue Aspen were dispatched Thursday.

The two peaks that make up the Maroon Bells, which the Aspen Chamber of Commerce coined “the most photographed mountains in North America,” are equally acknowledged for being dangerous. The Bells earned the name “the Deadly Bells” after eight people died in five separate accidents in 1965.

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