August 7th, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO:
60 year-old Steve Elliott started ascending Longs Peak on a stormy Friday morning, intending to hike Clark’s Arrow and the Loft Route, and then return via the Keyhole Route.
The round trip is estimated at 13 miles with 5,300 feet of elevation gain -but the Texas native did not make it that far.
On Saturday morning, the hiker’s family reported that he had not returned.
Flight For Life and Northern Colorado Medivac started an aerial search, along with Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue from the ground, through lightening, hail, rain, and snow.
The man was located at 1:15 PM on Saturday at the base of Clark’s arrow, and was treated for hypothermia and exposure related injuries.
“The Keyhole Route is NOT a hike! It is a climb that crosses enormous sheer vertical rock faces, often with falling rocks, requiring scrambling, where an unroped fall would likely be fatal. The route has narrow ledges, loose rock, and steep cliffs. The terrain requires good route- nding and scrambling skills. Use caution, as injuries requiring rescue are very dangerous and take many hours, if not days, to evacuate.” – National Park Service
Easily visible from Denver, Longs Peak attracts a lot of attention and is a bucket-list item for many adventurers. But at 14,249 feet, it is no walk in the park. It requires a good twelve hours, lots of preparation, and peak fitness.