Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

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Candace66
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Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by Candace66 »

I'm wondering if anyone has information about (or even remembers?!) a fatal accident that occurred on Blanca Peak, probably in 1998 or 1999. I've had no luck searching the internet for an account of it.

The victim was a male climber. In addition, I think he was climbing solo. Another clear memory is that the route was "only" class 2. So it most likely occurred on the Blanca Peak standard route. Or perhaps he got off-route...but the fact it was a class 2 route sticks firmly in my mind.

But what was really notable about the situation was that the climber's remains could not be recovered. His body was on some very unstable terrain. I recall that multiple SAR teams evaluated the situation and determined they could not safely recover the remains.

This happened when I lived in Denver. It probably occurred in 1998 or 1999. Because I remember discussing the situation with someone who was a coworker and climbing partner during those years. We were surprised and impressed that this happened on a Colorado peak with a medium-difficulty standard route. (I'm referring here not so much to the accident, but to the inaccessibility of the remains.)

When I climbed Blanca Peak in September 2014, I saw the memorial plaque for Britton Redifer. But that young man died in a drowning accident in Oklahoma.

With that information, does anyone remember this incident? I have wondered if his remains were ever recovered.
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Scott P
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by Scott P »

There was an accident in 1986 with a very difficult body recovery when a climber separated from the rest of the group (CMC trip) on the Ellingwood-Blanca Ridge and fell. Could this be it? I assume that it isn't given the timeline.
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by TomPierce »

Pure speculation: Could the climber have wandered off the standard route to one of the technical ridges? That might explain why the terrain was inaccessible, and maybe that would open up another peak (i.e. Little Bear, LB-Blanca ridge)) for your search query. I can't think of any inaccessible areas on the standard route, although it might be seasonably inaccessible to a full blown search crew, e.g. winter. Again, speculation.

Good luck with your search.

-Tom
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Jon Frohlich
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by Jon Frohlich »

I vaguely remember that someone was never found in that area but I can't remember where for sure. The timing would be about right.

I thought they suspected the person disappeared after trying to climb Blanca and Ellingwood from the Huerfano Valley (not via Gash Ridge). My memory is really sketchy on this one though.
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by jkirk »

Not looking like a full match, but, 1995, standard route:
https://www.denverpost.com/2005/10/01/f ... -memories/
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by mjsherman »

So I am pretty sure this was on Lindsey. Not sure of the year, but you could probably find in now. There were multiple SARs teams that tried to get to the climber's body. They all felt it was too risky as rock fall had caused the accident and it was still very unstable. If I remember right, he was climbing the ridge direct and not the standard route gully. I would assume the body is still there? Have not seen any reports that he was finally removed. Maybe though? I will try to find info.
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mjsherman
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by mjsherman »

jkirk's post seems more like what you are looking for.
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DArcyS
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by DArcyS »

I have a vague recollection of a county judge dying on Ellingwood sometime in the 90's, but again, that's a long time ago.
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by highpilgrim »

mjsherman wrote:jkirk's post seems more like what you are looking for.
Seems right. Some of the places off the north face there would certainly be deemed difficult to access.
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by Woody610 »

Not sure if this is the mission you are looking for. In October of 2000 David Syring fell while climbing Mt Lindsey. Multiple SAR teams from across the state attempted to do the body recovery in the following week. A Special Forces unit from Fort Carson was also enlisted to attempt the recovery the following week. Two feet of new snow in the area prohibited the recovery. Apx 1 month later a small group of rescuers were able to lower David the 1800ft to the valley floor. Three days later a private helicopter was used to recover the body.
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by Woody610 »

In addition to the Mt Lindsey mission, there was a recovery in the early 2000's (not sure of the actual year) of a solo male climber who fell while climbing the Ormes route on the NE side of Mt Blanca. I believe the male party was from Texas. Multiple rescue Teams were involved in this search and recovery. This mission was performed from the Huerfano Valley Trailhead.
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Re: Late 90's Blanca Peak fatal accident?

Post by mjsherman »

Woody610 wrote:Not sure if this is the mission you are looking for. In October of 2000 David Syring fell while climbing Mt Lindsey. Multiple SAR teams from across the state attempted to do the body recovery in the following week. A Special Forces unit from Fort Carson was also enlisted to attempt the recovery the following week. Two feet of new snow in the area prohibited the recovery. Apx 1 month later a small group of rescuers were able to lower David the 1800ft to the valley floor. Three days later a private helicopter was used to recover the body.
This sounds like the one I was thinking of. Glad they were able to do a recovery.
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