Dangerous Conditions Halt Recovery of Hiker’s Body on Capitol Peak
Unsafe conditions have halted recovery efforts for the body of Kelly McDermott, a 32-year-old Wisconsin hiker who died while climbing Capitol Peak in early August.
According to a press release from the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, McDermott never returned from his climb on August 1. After an extensive search, rescuers discovered his body on the morning of August 4, around 500 feet below the mountain's infamous 'Knife Edge.'
Rescuers began a recovery mission, but dangerous conditions hindered their efforts. As the rescuers made their way towards McDermott's body, an "avalanche of rocks" came down the mountain, striking three of them. A HAATS Blackhawk helicopter airlifted the team to nearby hospitals — one of the rescuers required emergency surgery.
Now, CBS4 reports that, due to the unsafe nature of Capitol Peak, crews will no longer attempt to get McDermott's body off of the mountain.
"It was a difficult decision, but we've collectively decided to leave Kelly McDermott's body on the mountain where it currently rests," the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office's Alex Burchetta told the station. "We've spent the past month or so working on alternate recovery plans and simply were not able to come up with one that provided the level of safety necessary to conduct another recovery mission."
With a summit of 14,130 feet, Capitol Peak is considered a Class 4 fourteener. 14ers.com describes the climb as a "long, tedious, and dangerous" feat meant only for experienced climbers.
Burchetta noted to CBS4 that, if conditions on the mountain improve, crews could attempt to recover McDermott's body again.
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