Monday, August 21, 2006

Another dies on the Deadly Bells

The Maroon Bells claimed another victim late Saturday afternoon when a Texas man fell more than 300 feet to the base of a narrow gully on South Maroon Peak.
Dr. Sterling Smith, 66, of Denton, was leading a group of three on a descent of the summit ridge when he lost his balance in a scree field at 12,800 feet, Pitkin County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Ferrara said Sunday morning. It was the second death on the peak this year. Local search and rescue team members told the Aspen Times that on average one climber dies a year on the Peaks.

Why are the Maroon Bells so deadly? Geology. The broken sedimentary stone that makes up the distinctive red peaks forms a series of cliffs and ledges, and the ledges are generally covered with loose piles of broken rock. It's easy to stumble, or pull off a loose hand hold, and if you do, there's not much to stop you.

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