Unprepared climber seeking shortcut on descent rescued from Capitol Peak

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. — A climber who went off-course while seeking a shortcut had to be rescued from Capitol Peak on Tuesday, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said.

Eric Millers of Iowa City, Iowa, got stuck on the dangerous 14er while descending to Capitol Lake.

Millers told rescue and sheriff’s personnel that after reaching the summit of the 14,137-foot mountain and coming back across the tricky Knife Edge, he sought a shortcut to Capitol Lake.

He said his climbing partner did not want to take the shortcut and the two argued about which route to take. Millers went off-route while his climbing partner stayed on the established route.

The sheriff’s office said Millers quickly found himself in trouble when he could no longer climb downhill and couldn’t retrace the route to the top.

Millers then called 911, saying while he wasn’t injured, because of fatigue and dehydration, he felt climbing back to the established route would be too dangerous to attempt.

He was also cold and wet after a thunderstorm passed through and was not equipped with a helmet or harness.

About 20 members of Mountain Rescue Aspen and a Blackhawk rescue helicopter were deployed in the rescue.

The crew on the helicopter found Millers about 6:40 p.m. well off the established route. A rescue crew member was lowered and Millers was fitted with a helmet and harness to assist in the rescue.

Millers was taken to the Mountain Rescue Aspen headquarters where he declined medical treatment. His climbing partner safely reached Capitol Lake.

Capitol Peak is in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness about 14 miles west of Aspen. The difficult mountain with numerous exposures and loose, crumbling rock saw five deaths last year.

Google Map for coordinates 39.150265 by -107.083103.

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