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Missing Hiker on Bison Peak

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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Joined: Thu May 19, 2005 11:30 am
Location: Highlands Ranch, CO (5780')

Re: Missing Hiker on Bison Peak

Postby Kevin Baker » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:02 pm

Based on the coordinates posted here earlier, a possibility is he could have gotten disoriented by weather and went down the east side of the mountain into the McCurdy Creek drainage. That then dumps you into Lost Creek, which is brutal terrain. That's my guess. It's more like an 8-9 mile slog (not 24 per the article) from the Twin Eagles TH to that spot. It looks like he was very close to the McCurdy Park trail. It's a miracle that he was even found in that maze of rock.
Always do what you are afraid to do. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:09 pm

Re: Missing Hiker on Bison Peak

Postby CORed » Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:55 pm

I would like to add a little background on the area where Frank Stanley disappeared, because I have done quite a bit of hiking in the Lost Creek Wilderness over the years, and I did in fact hike McCurdy Creek from near Bison Peak to Lost Creek sometime in the '80's.

I hiked the route down McCurdy Creek because I was looking for a challenging off-trail hike, and I certainly found it. I did not summit Bison Peak on that trip. I hiked from the Lost Park trailhead up Indian Creek to Bison Pass, took the fork that goes to McCurdy Park and continued over the west shoulder of Bison Peak to where the trail comes close to the head of the McCurdy Creek drainage, then continued down McCurdy Creek to Lost Creek, followed Lost Creek back to the Wigwam Trail and followed that back to Lost Park. This was originally intended to be a day hike, but turned into an unplanned overnight hike when it became apparent that I would not be able to complete the route before dark and chose to spend the night feeding a fire rather than trying to navigate the extreme terrain of that area in the dark. McCurdy Creek is much like a smaller version of Lost Creek, in that it goes under big piles of boulders in several places. However, the gradient of the creek, and of the hillsides on both sides, are much steeper than those along most of Lost Creek, which makes the hiking that much more difficult. The hiking I did on this route was all class 2 and class 3. I did not use, nor did I need rope or technical climbing gear. However, without good route-finding skills, I might easily have gotten into terrain that was too difficult, and a fall in the wrong place might well have led me to the same fate that befell Frank Stanley. I had done quite a bit of hiking in the Lost Creek/Goose Creek drainage, on and off trail, so I had a fairly good idea what I was getting into; nevertheless, I underestimated the time required to complete the route. I'm not really surprised that S&R was unable to recover the body. I'm a bit surprised that they were able to find it.

The upper part of McCurdy Creek is fairly gentle terrain. If one were trying to get off of Bison Peak in a hurry to avoid getting caught in a thunderstorm, it would be the easiest place to go to get off the ridgeline in a hurry. Having done so, the natural inclination if one's car were parked at Lost Park trailhead would be to continue down McCurdy Creek to Lost Creek, and follow Lost Creek to the trailhead. It should be noted that there is a pretty decent social trail along Lost Creek between the Wigwam Trail and McCurdy Creek, and farther down Lost Creek. It is also possible, though not without some difficult spots, to follow Lost Creek down to where the McCurdy Park trail crosses it. However, the easier way out would probably be to go up McCurdy Creek and return to the trail north of Bison Pass.

For those who are not familiar with the the Lost Creek area, I would like to describe its unusual, if not unique feature: The subterranean creek passages. Lost Creek got it's name because in several places, it disappears underground. In fact, below one of the largest of such areas, it's name changes to Goose Creek. Although there are lots of streams in the world that go into caves in limestone rock, this is not the case for Lost Creek. The rock in that area is entirely Pikes Peak Granite. The "caves" in the area where Lost Creek and some of its tributaries, including McCurdy Creek, go underground are not caves like limestone caves. They are more like slot canyons filled to a depth of anywhere from a ten or so feet to a few hundred feet with immense piles of rocks and boulders, many of the boulders house-sized or larger. I don't know of any other place in the world with this sort of terrain. Some of these are "roofed over" with soil and vegetation; many more when viewed from the top are just piles of rock, extending down to indeterminate depth. When I was younger, I spent quite a bit of time scrambling around on top of these places; I never went deep into the piles. This would be something that should probably be attempted only by expert cavers with ropes and technical climbing gear. It would seem that Frank Stanley had the misfortune to fall into one of these places. I can only hope that the fall killed him, but the nightmare scenario here would be that he survived the fall, and was stuck there until hypothermia or dehydration took him.

I also have to say that given the choice between a cemetery, and the place Frank Stanley is buried, I would take Frank Stanley's grave.

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Re: Missing Hiker on Bison Peak

Postby birdsall » Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:30 am

Body recovered by a privately funded search team

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18773490?source=pophome

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