Man dies from ‘medical event’ during technical Telluride climb

The Via Ferrata

TELLURIDE, Colo. — A Grand Junction man died while climbing a technical route in Telluride Saturday, the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office said.

The 74-year-old man was climbing the Via Ferrata with his step-daughter. The route includes a system of iron rungs and steel cables attached to the side of Telluride’s box canyon. Climbers use the system to horizontally traverse the face of the canyon while 400 above the terrain below.

The sheriff’s office said the climbers had just completed the most technical portion of the route around 4 p.m. Saturday when the man sat down on a narrow ledge and became unresponsive.

“His step-daughter told responders he was pulseless and breathless, so she started CPR, called 911 and yelled for help,” a sheriff’s office spokesperson said in a statement Sunday.

A number of local agencies responded. Personnel had to hike through treacherous terrain to reach the man.

While rescuers worked to get to the scene, a nearby tour group heard the woman’s calls for help and came to assist with CPR.

“After a total of nearly 45 minutes of resuscitative efforts, the man was pronounced dead at approximately 4:45 p.m.,” the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies and about 12 search-and-rescue volunteers then began a five-hour, highly technical recovery mission.

“I am proud of the collaborative efforts of our first responders. Certainly this is an unfortunate outcome, and our thoughts are with the victim’s family,” said Telluride Fire Protection District Cheif John Bennett.

The San Miguel County Coroner is investigating the man’s cause of death. However, trauma was not a contributing factor.

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