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Overdue Climbers

Threads related to Colorado mountaineering accidents but please keep it civil and respectful. Friends and relatives of fallen climbers will be reading these posts.
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Please be respectful when posting - family and friends of fallen climbers might be reading this forum.
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby tommyboy360 » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:59 pm

I accidently left some gear behind on my recent trip out to South Colony Lakes. It was valuable enough that I went back to recover it this past midweek. I thought I would use the opportunity to summit Humboldt and hopefully recover my gear. Anyway, it was a quiet day and during my descent I briefly talked with an older couple that was sitting above the upper SC lake on the western slope of Humboldt. I said "hello." They told me they just arrived, set up camp and were simply using the afternoon to scout out the arête. They were so excited and would hopefully climb it in the next day or two. It was a very brief encounter and I have no way to verify if it was them... but still shocking to read the story.

The weather was fine on the day I hiked Humboldt but serious clouds were building by early afternoon. What a difference a day can make when tackling the tough routes. Sad day. My thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to their son, family and friends.

The SC lakes area was quiet but the few groups camping were all still talking about the SAR event which just happened the day before on BHP. Also, I ran into SAR the weekend I did peak2neddle and they were searching for 2 other climbers that were cliff'd out during their attempt to traverse needle2peak. A big thanks and appreciation goes out to CCSAR which have been on various calls over the past week.
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby tharlow » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:44 am

Just another reminder that we are here for only a short time, and to savor the moments we have in the high country and with our loved ones. My condolences to the family of these two climbers and another thank you to the SAR members for all that you do.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby MtHurd » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:26 am

I've done several technical routes and attempted another one (stormed off before I got to the technical part) during the monsoon season. Did Wham Ridge this year and nearly got struck by lightning. I'm seriously considering never doing a technical route during monsoon season again. If you live in Colorado, you can watch the weather and go when you need to. Out of staters don't have that luxury so we just have to make plans and cross our fingers that the monsoon isn't that bad when we get there.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby tmathews » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:44 am

More info (including names): http://www.newswest9.com/Global/story.asp?S=12910059

The bodies of 57-year-old Duane Buhrmester and 56-year-old Linda Buhrmester of Plano were found Sunday afternoon on Crestone Needle. The mountain in the Sangre de Cristo range is a popular climbing destination with a summit over 14,000 feet.

The captain of Custer County Search & Rescue, Bob Pruiksma (PROO-iks-ma), says the couple appeared to have been dead several days. The couple's son reported them missing Saturday after they failed to return from a camping trip.

The Custer County coroner says he believes a severe storm washed the couple off the mountain, causing them to fall about 500 feet into a mudslide area.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby MtHurd » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:30 am

rclee wrote: Why not just get up early?


This is not always the case. I left for Wham Ridge at 4 a.m. and was on the route by 5 a.m. I was off the summit by noon and still had storms. During the monsoon season, especially this year, getting off the summit by noon may not be early enough. The couple had been dead for a couple of days, so who know what time it was when their storm rolled in. I know a couple of weeks ago for two nights in a row it rained all night. The forecast after we left was a 60% chance of storms for as far out as the forecast would go.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby cbauer10 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:06 am

rclee wrote:If the couple died in the storm on Friday, I believe it hit about 11 am.


The article says that they were found on Saturday and appeared to have been deceased for several days. Any idea what the weather was like earlier in the week? Could they have been caught in a storm on Wednesday or Thursday. I got the impression from the article that maybe the storm on Friday may have just washed their bodies down to where they were discovered.

No matter what happened, it is still tragic and I sorry to those that it has effected.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby MtHurd » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:44 am

rclee wrote: For example, I'm not sure if you were soloing or roped climbing Wham, but obviously belaying is slower.

Yes I was roped and had a newbie with me which took extra time. No problems with the climb itself, just with the monsoon. If I had to do it again, I would not have done this during monsoon season. We only got one close lightning strike, but it was fairly close to us and blew some rocks down the mountain.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby cftbq » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:16 pm

rclee wrote:why even get on a long route like the Ellingwood? I'm not sure exactly where either Needle party was on the mountain when the storm hit-- but didn't they see it coming; and,if so--why didn't they bail?


Because, as Barry pointed out, when you're coming from far away, you have to plan in advance and hope for the best. Most likely, this was the day they had, and they were, understandably, loathe to do anything but make the most of it they could. I refuse to be too hard on these unfortunate climbers. The storm that hit them was well beyond what we've all come to expect as the normal hazard of summer climbing. It is the weather which is sadly running up the body count in Colorado this year, not some egregious foolishness on the part of climbers. (And remember: there isn't any global warming; that's just a hoax dreamed up by evil liberal science geeks...)
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:24 pm

No one is forcing anyone to climb in bad weather. Residents or people coming to CO for vacation, it's wise to cancel plans when the weather is going to be bad.
It's that simple.

Planning for normal afternoon t-storms is different than planning when the monsoon pattern is in place.
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby NickJ » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:30 pm

Yes, earlier may not ensure safety during monsoon season. FWIW, several years ago, during a similar monsoon pattern, I was caught in a cloud-to-ground lightning storm at 9:45 a.m., only 15 minutes after leaving the summit of Antero. I knew the weather was unsettled but believed I'd be okay summitting early. Somehow, my view of the approaching storm was obstructed during my ascent. By the time I saw it coming, it was too late for me to do anything about it. It came upon me very quickly. As those of you who have experienced being caught in something like this well above tree line can attest, not a pleasant experience.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby cbauer10 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:34 pm

BillMiddlebrook wrote:No one is forcing anyone to climb in bad weather. Residents or people coming to CO for vacation, it's wise to cancel plans when the weather is going to be bad.
It's that simple.

Planning for normal afternoon t-storms is different than planning when the monsoon pattern is in place.


I agree. I have been trying to find a slot to do the Wilsons for two weeks now and have it on hold due to weather. I even want it to dry out a bit after the rain stops coming through because I want the ground to be more stable. Especially after the recent tragedy that occurred up there.

That being said, it is still terrible every time there is word of a climber not making it out of there in good health. RIP!!!

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby MtHurd » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:22 pm

BillMiddlebrook wrote:No one is forcing anyone to climb in bad weather. Residents or people coming to CO for vacation, it's wise to cancel plans when the weather is going to be bad.
It's that simple.

Planning for normal afternoon t-storms is different than planning when the monsoon pattern is in place.


Absolutely, I've cancelled plans, been rained out the entire trip before. Just saying what may go through the minds of those coming from out-of-state. It's certainly no excuse I agree. It sounds like some others got stormed on Crestone Needle, the couple that died just happened to be on the technical Ellingwood Arete and had no way of escape. This storm seemed more severe than your average monsoon storm.

If the forecast was truly 30%, then that sounds like the normal afternoon variety of storms to me. 80% sounds like monsoon. I wouldn't cancel my trip plans at 30%, I would at 80%. Weather forecasters are wrong sometimes too so even at 30% and getting a 4 a.m. start gives you no guarantees.

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