The body of a 29-year-old man who had been climbing was discovered in a boulder field in the Officers Gulch area, located off Interstate 70, according to the Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG). Officers Gulch is situated about 3.5 miles east of Copper Mountain. The SCRG was alerted about a missing individual by a friend of the deceased at 10:33 p.m. on Saturday. The friend reported that the climber had planned to climb in Officers Gulch that morning, but did not provide a specific location.
The climber had contacted his friend around 5 p.m., indicating that he was on a rock and would soon be descending. When the friend did not hear from the climber later that evening, he drove to Officers Gulch and found the climber’s car still parked there. He then called 911 to report his friend missing. The SCRG dispatched eight members to search for the missing individual around 11:30 p.m. The team searched along the bike path between Officers Gulch and Frisco, and along a local climbers’ trail known as Halfway Rock. At about 2 a.m. on Sunday, the SCRG’s mission coordinator decided to resume the search at dawn.
At 7:50 a.m., a pair of SCRG rescuers discovered the body of the missing climber at the base of a cliff known as Officers Wall. A team of SCRG rescuers then established a rigging system to transport the body through the boulder field and back to the parking lot. The SCRG and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) expressed their deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.
The SCRG and SCSO also noted that the deceased and his family had taken several steps that aided in the search. By informing his friend of his expected return time, the climber ensured that a search began quickly and that searchers had an approximate area to search. Additionally, by sending a video to his family and using a shared phone location app, he enabled searchers to quickly pinpoint his location once the family was able to share this information. These practices can serve as lessons for other backcountry recreationists.
The Summit County Coroner’s Office will release further details about the cause of death and the identity of the deceased following a complete investigation. The climber’s identity and official cause of death have not been released at this time.