Early on Sunday morning, tragedy struck at Rocky Mountain National Park as a 26-year-old woman tragically died after falling 500 feet while free solo climbing. She had been climbing with a 27-year-old man, both from Boulder, Colorado, when he contacted the park rangers via cell phone to report her fall.
At the request of the National Park Service, the Colorado Air National Guard helicopter at Buckley Air Force Base was called upon to airlift the uninjured man away from the area via a hoist operation. The Rocky Mountain Rescue Group also assisted with the rescue mission, employing a winch-operated cable. Flight for Life Air Ambulance then aided in aerial reconnaissance.
On Monday morning, a Rocky Mountain National Park search and rescue team hiked to the area above Ypsilon Lake to prepare for a helicopter long-line recovery. Northern Colorado Interagency Helitak transported the woman’s body to the Larimer County Coroner and Medical Examiner’s Office. Once there, the coroner will determine the cause of death. The woman’s identity will be released after her next of kin has been properly notified.
This woman’s death is an incredibly sad testament to the inherent danger of free solo climbing. Although the activity is both thrilling and rewarding, taking all necessary precautions before attempting it is essential. The National Park Service underscores the importance of always using appropriate safety equipment and being conscious of one’s surroundings.
Ultimately, this tragedy serves as a heartbreaking reminder of the fragility of life and underscores the importance of exercising caution when engaging in potentially dangerous activities. During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with the woman’s family and friends.