On Saturday, September 11, at approximately 8:00 am, FRECOM Emergency Dispatch received a call about a 44-year-old male climber who was overdue in returning from climbing Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle in Colorado. The man has been identified as Jeremy Fuerst, a Washington state pastor, according to officials and the Lutheran Church. It’s not yet clear how he fell.
At around 1 pm members of Division of Fire Protection and Control – Canon City Helitack (DFPC) and two Custer County Search and Rescue (CCSAR) team members conducted an aerial search via helicopter. They spotted the subject roughly 300-feet below the traverse between Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle. It appeared as though the climber had fallen and sustained fatal injuries. Due to the steep, technical terrain and the difficulty of the recovery, it was determined that the safest course of action was to field teams at first light on Sunday, September 12.
On Sunday, September 12, four CCSAR Technical Rope Rescue team members were inserted via DFPC helicopter into the field to begin climbing to reach the subject. The terrain in this area has loose, crumbling rock which increased the difficulty for the search teams. The team reached the subject at approximately 10:20 am. He was airlifted out to the Saguache County coroner. All teams were out of the field by 2:30 pm. We thank our partners at DFPC Canon City Helitack and Saguache County Search and Rescue for their assistance on this mission. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of this climber.
Custer County Search and Rescue would like to remind the public and recreational climbers that climbing solo can increase the risk of a catastrophic event. This climber was well-prepared, carried a Garmin inReach, and had extensive climbing experience. Even with the best preparation, accidents happen, and the consequences are much more severe when miles into the backcountry. We advise that you research your route, know your limits, and carry enough food, water, and gear to spend an extra night out at elevation.
According to Wikipedia, Crestone Peak is the seventh-highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The prominent 14,300-foot (4,359 m) fourteener is the highest summit of the Crestones and the second-highest summit in the Sangre de Cristo Range after Blanca Peak. The summit is located in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness of Rio Grande National Forest, 5.0 miles (8.1 km) east by south (bearing 102°) of the Town of Crestone in Saguache County, Colorado, United States.
Crestone Peak rises 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above the east side of the San Luis Valley. It shares its name with the nearby Crestone Needle, another fourteener of the Crestones. The Crestones are a cluster of high summits in the Sangre de Cristo Range, comprising Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Kit Carson Peak, Challenger Point, Humboldt Peak, and Columbia Point. They are usually accessed from common trailheads.