Family remembers couple killed while hiking Capitol Peak

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. -- Friends and family gathered Sunday afternoon to remember the lives of a young couple killed while hiking on Capitol Peak in Pitkin County last weekend.

Carlin Brightwell, 27, and Ryan Marcil, 26, were attempting to summit the 14,131-foot mountain on Aug. 20 when they fell nearly 200 feet. Their bodies were discovered Monday.

Brightwell attended the University of Colorado before moving to Aspen in 2012. Marcil moved to Aspen more recently and the pair met through mutual friends.

“We fell for Ryan hard and fast just like she did,” Brightwell's father Hank Brightwell said. “He was just all about helping other people.”

The couple had only been dating a few months, but they will be remembered together forever.

The pair were honored at an emotional gathering at Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus, where Brightwell worked.

Dozens of people spoke about their infectious personalities and the legacy they will leave behind.

“They fell madly in love with each other and died doing what they loved doing,” Hank Brightwell said.

The couple lived next door to Brightwell's sister Sidney Brightwell. They made the plans to hike Capitol Peak earlier in the week and set out for camp Saturday afternoon.

They were due back Sunday evening, but Sidney Brightwell said she didn’t worry when they didn’t immediately return.

“I really thought that they were just tired from that day of hiking and needed to stay at camp another night or ran into some friends and got convinced to stay for the eclipse,” she said.

Sidney Brightwell said she started to worry Monday morning before calling mountain rescuers.

“It was definitely going to be the most challenging technical hike they had done, but I was confident in their confidence,” she said.

But Brightwell’s parents believed their daughter often pushed the limits too far when it came to hiking and skiing.

“Yes, I admit I was concerned often about that,” Hank Brightwell said. “She knew of those risks and they were cautious and bright, but you break the rules in the mountains and the mountains are unforgiving.”

It is still unclear what happened to cause the couple to fall. According to the Brightwells, the Pitkin County Coroner's Office told them the deaths were avoidable.

“They’re sick and tired of this selfie world that’s all about, ‘Hey, look at me, I’m doing another 14er,’ and doing things that they probably aren’t prepared and aren’t qualified to do,” Hank Brightwell said.

He said he doesn’t believe they fell while taking a selfie, but the desire to post photos from the top of Capitol Peak might have encouraged the pair to pursue the hike before they were skilled enough to do so.

“Everybody hug their kids tight. Time with them is precious, and make sure they pause and consider the risk and danger of what they’re trying to do,” Hank Brightwell said.