Climber presumed dead after fall in Rocky Mountain National Park
Ryan Summerlin March 19, 2013
David Laurienti, 43, of Estes Park is presumed dead from injuries believed to be sustained in a fall during an avalanche in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Another climber, Lisa Foster, 45, also of Estes Park, sustained serious injuries during the same incident and was evacuated by park rangers and Larimer County Search and Rescue.
Search efforts began Monday morning for two overdue climbers from Estes Park. At around 2:45 p.m. park rangers found the 45-year-old female climber in the upper Fay Lakes basin approximately 6 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead. It was reported that she and her partner had been caught in an avalanche at approximately 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, when descending from the north side of Blitzen Ridge on the 13,514 foot Ypsilon Mountain. She suffered numerous injuries during her fall. Park rangers provided her with assistance, medical care and evacuated her via toboggan from Ypsilon Lake, which is roughly 4.5 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead. The recovery team reached the trailhead at approximately 1 a.m. and she was then transported by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center.
A six-person team will attempt to locate Mr. Laurienti’s body and conduct an investigation when weather and avalanche conditions allow. Foster reported the man’s body to be located in the upper Fay Lakes area north of Ypsilon Mountain. The weather forecast on Tuesday called for high winds with gusts exceeding 60 mph at times, blowing and drifting snow, and very cold temperatures above 11,000 feet. Body recovery efforts will take place on another day when weather and conditions allow.
Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon Mountain is a challenging mountaineering route that includes sections of technical rock, often made more difficult in winter conditions. Recent snow and winds have contributed to what the Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasted as considerable avalanche conditions in this area since Saturday. Ypsilon (pronounced ipp-salon) Mountain is located north of Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.