Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby Gene913 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:13 pm

MountainHiker wrote:My friend Ed, and I were in the second gulley when we saw the climber fall past us. My sincere condolences to Derek’s family and friends. I am really sorry for your loss.

There is no way for someone else to comprehend either the pain Derek's family and friends are experiencing upon his loss or the turmoil that you and Ed experienced and are experiencing as witnesses to this tragedy. I am thankful, Ian, that an experienced mountaineer like you was there to assist. I was with you and Dorthe in the Culebra group climb in 2008 and know that no one could have been more equipped to deal with this than you. As everyone affected struggles to put the pieces of your lives back together, I can only pray that the Lord's strength will bring all of you comfort and peace.
"If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, and you say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:21
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby briank » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:54 pm

I was the solo hiker between Ian and Ed below me and the couple who witnessed more of the accident above me. Fortunately I was in a relatively protected location just below a slightly overhanging cliff band and a couple hundred feet to the right of the Crux Chimney so I did not witness any of the initial accident either.

I first became aware that something had gone wrong when I heard screaming coming from up above me and nearly at the same time heard all the rock coming down, although not nearly as much as was knocked out when the rock fall made it into the gully below me and where Ian and Ed were. As I glanced over at the rock coming down, about 75-100 feet away from where I was at, I saw the climber’s body, Derek, coming down with it and then quickly disappear over a ledge. First there was disbelief, did I really see someone, then shock, then fear, then after the shaking somewhat subsides, an instinct to help anyone involved.

First I made contact with everyone above me, by shouting back and forth between us, to find out if everyone above was alright, at least physically. I also found out that they had made contact with SAR. Then because I knew at least Ed and Ian were below me I set out to make sure they were all right, and almost immediately saw them making their way down the gully, but we were too far apart to make discernible voice contact.

Because of all the rock that came down and Ian and Ed being below me, and as Ian said did I did not want to cause or be involved in any further incident, I stayed as far to the other side of the gully that Ian and Ed were on while slowly and methodically making my way down.

By the time I had made it down, the condition of Derek had been determined by the four climbers coming up. So I too just sat and talked and waited for the remainder of the hikers to make it down safely.

My respect and admiration goes out to the Pitkin County SAR and Sherriff for what they do. I even got a call from the Sherriff’s office on my way home to make sure I was still alright.

I did not know Derek and never met him but still feel a great sorrow. R.I.P Derek.

My condolences go out to Derek’s family and friends.
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby ztop » Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:10 pm

First of all condolences to Derek's family. As much as he probably loved climbing I'm sure his first love was for you.

Secondly, thanks to MountainHiker, BrianK and nank02 for being a part of this community and willing to gain and use the knowledge of how to help others in these mountains.

Lastly to the whole climbing community, don't ever take these hills for granted. They don't let you know all their weak points or provide warnings. Keep watching out for yourselves and all our brothers and sisters on the mountain.
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby WSN » Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:29 pm

MountainHiker wrote: They arrived at what they identified as the crux chimney. He climbed up first and had trouble negotiating the very top. There was a loose rock that came off. He fell. His momentum took him over the side of the ledge below.

From MountainHiker's narrative I believe the victim in fact fell from the top/exit of the second gully, not the actual crux chimney. If some one falls from anywhere near the chimney, it is only going to be a 10-foot fall, no way to tumble into the second gully.
I recall that the exit of the second gully is kind of tricky. Two years ago, I ended up to climb a 10-foot wall, and almost pulled out a rock that I used as a handhold!
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby Man Jerk » Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:42 pm

My most sincere thanks to all of those on the mountain who kept their wits and did what they could for my friend. I spent the afternoon playing with his boys and it was the perfect thing to keep my mind busy. Derek brother you will be missed and I will do everything I can to help take care of your boys.
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby mtgirl » Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:59 pm

My condolences for the loss of your friend - my thoughts and prayers are with you and Derek's family. Thank you to SAR and all the fine members of that did what they could to help in a very tragic situation. :(
"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby susanjoypaul » Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:13 pm

So tragic, and so traumatic for all those on the mountain. My heart goes out to you all, and to Derek's family and friends as well. We all know the dangers, but it doesn't lessen the pain. Hopes of peace and healing in the coming weeks, friends. We're all here for you.
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby dcbates80911 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:12 pm

In times like this, it is hard to know what to say. I really feel for Derek's family and friends. May god cradle you in his loving arms and help you through this difficult time. You are in my prayers.
There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:53 pm

Kapelmuur wrote:
zdero1 wrote:@MountainHiker

I'm so sorry that you were involved in this tragedy, but I am thankful there are climbers like yourself who are so willing to come to the aid of others in distress. I admire your bravery and selflessness.

I'd like to enthusiastically concur with this statement.

And much sympathy to Derek and his family and friends. It's been an awful series of events this past month, cause to commit myself to having a greater appreciation for all those I meet on the mountain.


Ian, you and Dorthe are wonderful folks.

Heartfelt condolences to Mr. Kelly's family and friends.
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby lackerstef » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:21 pm

MountainHiker wrote:My friend Ed, and I were in the second gulley when this happened. I first heard a high pitched sound I later learned was a sustained female scream. Then we heard the unmistakable sound of a lot of rock falling our way. We were able to duck behind a rock out-cropping and watch as an unbelievable amount of rock came falling by. I was thinking “WTF is going on up there?” The rock kept falling past us for perhaps 30 seconds or more. Some were big. If someone were in their path they would be screwed. We saw a backpack come falling down with the rock. I though “Oh No”. Then we saw the climber fall past us. He was maybe 20 or 30 feet away as he tumbled by. We didn’t see him for long before he disappeared over the ledges we were on. After he passed I said to Ed, “I think we just saw someone die.”

The gulley is a series of ledges. Although most of the climbing isn’t particularly hard, there is a lot of loose rock and some awkward moves. It is steep in a way the ledges have some real exposure.

Everyone who was above us in the gulley had past us on the trail that morning. So we had a pretty good idea how many people were likely above us. But we didn’t have a visual. We also didn’t know how far above us the climber was when he fell. What we did know, was we were likely the closest people to him who witnessed the fall. We were about 400 feet above the traverse between the first and second gulleys.

I activated my Spot and pressed the SOS. We were both shaken by what we had seen. Ed asked me what first aid training I had. I told him “Wilderness First Aid once and CPR a few times” and “ the first rule is no more victims.” meaning we had to be really careful as we down climbed to him. No only were we concerned about more falling rock I was concerned about our own abilities to master how shaken we were.

We really didn’t expect to find somebody alive, but on that chance, I took a mental inventory of what I had for stopping bleeding. As we down climbed we stayed to side of the gulley as much as we could. We could see another climber above us down-climbing the other side. We maintained a methodical pace and kept looking back and across in case the climber had stopped on any ledges we were passing.

Another party that did not witness the fall came up through the traverse. We met them as we reached the body. I’ll not share details but it was determined he was dead. He lay above where the trail crosses the low point at the entrance to the second gulley. Ed saw his pack below the trail and climbed down to retrieve it.

We still had not made contact with the climbers high in the gulley. We didn’t know that cell phone contact had been made with SAR. The climber who was closer above soon arrived. The new party that had come up continued climbing the gulley. This served to allow word to be passed to the climbers higher up of his fate. Eventually all six climbers who witnessed the fall gathered on the ledge between the first and second gulleys.

We learned the fallen climber had arrived alone. We probably met him just above Maroon Lake and spoke for a few minutes as he passed us. Higher up he met another climber who he climbed the second gulley with. They arrived at what they identified as the crux chimney. He climbed up first and had trouble negotiating the very top. There was a loose rock that came off. He fell. His momentum took him over the side of the ledge below.

A couple was not far behind them. The scream I heard was her witnessing him tumble down the gulley.

SAR had received word this was now a body recovery. Four of us started to hike down. The couple needed more time to settle. They caught up to us not long after we made contact with SAR members who were on their way up. While we were talking to SAR the helicopter recovered his body. We met another SAR member on the way down and were also interviewed at the command center set up in the parking lot.

The Pitkin County SAR and Sherriff do an amazing job. The SAR members are volunteers who give their time to do a very tough job. We saw they are not immune to these realities either. The opportunity to receive counseling is part of their service. We really owe them a lot.

On the way down, both before and after meeting SAR we spoke about the incident a lot. We were all very cognizant of how careful we needed to be in our shaken state. We spoke of how he was leaving loved ones behind. We knew his first name. The climber who was with him, especially needed to talk. We shared a lot more details than I will relate. I’ve not said the other climber’s names. They were all familiar with this site, but were not posters. I will leave it up to them if they want to share more.

To be clear, Ed and I did not see the beginning of the fall. The climber who was with him had to duck the rock fall so didn’t see everything either. He was interviewed extensively by SAR and the Sherriff’s staff and indicated a willingness to speak to the victim’s family.

My sincere condolences to Derek’s family and friends. I am really sorry for your loss.

I am part of the party that came around the gully and found Derek as you were descending. First things first - Derek, the climbing community is with you in spirit and may your's live on beyond any mountain!

I am very grateful that we took a break prior to entering the gully as the way you described the rock fall was not pretty. I am also thankful that you were equipped with the SPOT to swiftly assist the recovery.

Everyone be safe out there and live on with the mountaineering community as one.

Much love to Derek and his family and all!
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby ctlee » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:26 pm

How very sad! I wish peace to Derek's family and to those who witnessed this....
Live as if you were to die tomorrow-learn as if you were to live forever-----Mahatma Gandhi
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Re: Climber Deceased on North Maroon Today.

Postby Porkrind » Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:07 pm

Condolences to the family.
I was just up there two weeks ago and its scary to think what can happen to anybody.
The whole time I was climbing I kept praying, "God, give me strength and safety".
Everybody be extra careful out there.

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