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Longs Peak claims a life

Posted by Gale Bernhardt on Sep 13, 2009 6:08:03 PM

Just three days after our group made it safely to the summit of Longs Peak, and back, a man fell to his death near the false Keyhole.


Several of us commented on Tuesday that we were surprised more people didn’t suffer significant injuries on the mountain. In the times I’ve climbed the mountain I’ve seen people clearly unprepared for:


•     the endurance required (making it to the summit is less than half the battle, getting off the mountain in a fatigued and oxygen-deprived state is a serious challenge)

•     weather changes

•     recognizing when they are beyond their physical, mental and emotional capabilities

•     the upper body strength required

•     the balance and agility required

•     the significant dangers that the mountain can present at any moment (lightening, snow, ice, high winds, etc.)


Unfortunately the climb is portrayed as relatively easy, because so many people are able to make it to the summit. The climb is not easy.


While fear can be something that hampers your growth and can keep you from reaching your potential as a human; fear can also save your life. That kind of fear deserves the highest form of respect.


Our group was also tricked by the false Keyhole and fortunately, we had the wherewithal to stop, retreat and find the colored egg markers on a path lower than where we were heading. We saw a young couple on the mountain that day, where the woman was panicked and crying on the climb towards the false Keyhole. The man was telling the woman she would be okay and encouraging her to continue pressing upward. When they saw all of us going down, I believe they somehow decided to follow. Perhaps their gut-instinct or fear told them not to continue up.


We’ll never know.


My condolences to the family that lost a loved one on the mountain.

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