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Incident on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Date: September 2, 2009
Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363

Yesterday, Tuesday, September 1, at approximately 2:30 p.m. a 53-year-old man from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, took a 25 foot tumbling fall in the “Trough” area of Longs Peak. The “Trough” is a long, steep gully with loose rocks. He and his son, who is in his mid 20s, had climbed to the summit of Longs Peak and were descending when the incident occurred. The man suffered numerous injuries including a leg injury and numerous bruises and abrasions. A few bystanders tried calling for assistance around 5:30 p.m. on cell phones but the calls were dropped after limited information was given to park dispatch. Park dispatch was only able to hear a hiker was in duress near the “Trough.”

The two men had camped on Monday night and were planning to camp last night at a backcountry campsite at the Boulderfield. Not knowing whether park rangers had been contacted, the son hiked down to their camping gear and hiked back up, bringing a sleeping bag, first aid kit, food and water to his father. He then proceeded to hike down to the Longs Peak Trailhead. Two rangers, responding to the earlier calls, met the son on the trail at 8:30 p.m. last night, roughly two miles from the trailhead.

The two rangers proceeded to the Boulderfield and spent the night. At first light this morning, they hiked through the “Ledges” to the injured man, reaching him at 6:00 a.m. Two teams of rangers, as well as a paramedic with the Estes Park Medical Center, left Longs Peak Trailhead at 3:00 a.m. and at 5:00 a.m. to support the two rangers on scene. With assistance from the initial two rangers the man was able to move slowly to the Keyhole area. The man was flown from the Boulderfield (around 12,760 feet) at 10:30 a.m. this morning by St. Anthony’s Lifeguard One to Medical Center of the Rockies. Eighteen park staff were involved in this incident.

Recent photos of the “Trough” and the “Ledges” can be found on the park’s website at: nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/road_conditions

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