900-foot fall from Capitol Peak kills Denver woman Saturday

The "Knife Edge" of the Northeast Ridge on Capitol Peak is pictured in 2017. A Denver woman died Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, after a 900 foot fall from an area near the "Knife Edge" when a rock gave way while she was holding it, according to a news release.
Kevin Berrigan/Courtesy photo

A Denver woman died on Saturday, Sept. 3, after falling 900 feet from below the summit of Capitol Peak into Pierre Lakes Basin, according to a news release from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman was hiking solo and fell after a rock that she was trying to cling to gave way, according to a witness of the fall who called dispatch shortly before 8 a.m. to report the incident. The Pitkin County Coroner’s Office was not releasing her name until her closest relatives were notified.

The Sheriff’s Office then notified Mountain Rescue Aspen of the situation, and the witness was able to provide the rescue group with the exact location of the woman’s body. It was then estimated that she fell approximately 900 feet from the route that connects the knife edge to the Capitol Peak summit down to Pierre Lakes Basin.  

A recovery mission was planned out at the C.B. Cameron Rescue Center. Helicopters from Flight For Life Colorado and Montrose Helitack from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control aided Mountain Rescue Aspen in the mission. An EcoFlight aircraft was also used to survey the landscape during the initial stages of planning, the news release said.

A team of two rescue group volunteers were flown to K2, a nearby 13,664-foot peak, to establish radio communications, evaluate safety and close off the hiking trail, the new release said. A team of four rescue volunteers was flown into Pierre Lakes Basin and then hiked to the woman’s body and prepared it for extraction from the field.

At 2:47 p.m., the woman’s body was flown out of Pierre Lakes Basin to Cow Camp, about 7 miles up Capitol Creek Road, and turned over to the Pitkin County Coroner for further investigation.

All personnel were out of the field at 3:54 p.m.

Overall, 25 volunteers from Mountain Rescue Aspen, two Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputies, a Pitkin County deputy coroner and flight crews from Flight For Life Colorado, Montrose Helitack and EcoFlight participated in the recovery operation, according to the news release.

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