Rocky Mountain National Park personnel experienced a busy weekend responding to a series of backcountry incidents since Friday, July 25, when an 18-year-old Kansas teen fell to his death on Longs Peak.
The Boulder County Coroner’s office identified the teen as Nicholas L. Hellbusch of Lenexa, Kan.
Hellbusch apparently fell to his death near the Ledges on the Keyhole Route early Friday, when park rangers were contacted by a person climbing the route that he and a group he was climbing with saw a body below The Ledges. Rangers reached the body at 10:15 a.m. and confirmed the death.
The incident is under investigation, and no foul play is suspected.
The U.S. Forest Service Northern Colorado helicopter assisted with recovery efforts. Hellbusch’s body was flown to the helipad at Upper Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park and was transferred to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office.
On Friday morning, park rangers were contacted via cell phone by a 31-year-old man who indicated he had fallen an unknown distance while glissading down Gabletop Mountain, which is above Loomis Lake. He reported numerous injuries.
The U.S. Forest Service Northern Colorado helicopter used earlier for the body recovery from Longs Peak was utilized for aerial reconnaissance. Using cell phone GPS coordinates, rangers were able to determine his general location below Gabletop Mountain and aerial surveillance confirmed his exact location.
The man was located in a remote high alpine environment in a steep cirque above Loomis Lake at approximately 11,300 feet. A team of four park rangers was flown to Loomis Lake in between severe thunderstorms.
Early Saturday morning, just after midnight, rangers reached 31-year-old Nick Creadon from Golden by climbing to his location. Creadon was ambulatory but had life threatening injuries.
He greatly aided in his rescue by moving down a steep band of rock, then down a steep snowfield toward rangers. Rangers rescued Creadon by lowering him 500 feet with ropes and then assisted him an additional 700 feet down steep mountainous terrain to Loomis Lake. A paramedic on the park’s rescue team provided advanced life support throughout the incident.
At approximately 8:30 a.m. Creadon was flown to Upper Beaver Meadows Road where he was then taken by Flight for Life to St. Anthony’s Hospital for further treatment.
Park rescue team members feel this was truly a life-saving mission. Creadon was fortunate to have cell phone coverage in this remote location with very limited coverage. All park rescue personnel are safely out of the backcountry.
On Monday, July 28, rangers were notified by a family member that Jay Yambert, 56, of Champaign, Ill., was overdue. Yambert had planned to summit Longs Peak on the east side, via The Loft on Sunday, July 27.
At 8:45 a.m. Monday members of the park’s Search and Rescue team departed the trailhead and began to retrace what was assumed to be Yambert’s intended route. Yambert contacted family and indicated that he was uninjured, but due to severe weather and nightfall he spent an unexpected night on Longs Peak. There was heavy fog on Monday and he became lost.
Aerial searchers eventually located Yambert below Peacock Pool in the Roaring Fork drainage at roughly 4 p.m. Monday, and rangers nearby reached him on foot minutes later. They provided Yambert food and water, but Yambert declined evacuation by helicopter and medical evaluation.
He indicated he wanted to hike out on his own. Rangers led him back to the trail and gave him directions to the trailhead.