A 29-year-old man from Telluride was found deceased on Monday in high-altitude terrain approximately 3.5 miles north of town.
Identified as Patrick Eells and as an experienced mountaineer, Eells was hiking alone on the Dallas-Gilpin ridge near Telluride when he took an apparent fall. It is believed that the traumatic injuries sustained from the fall resulted in his death.
Eells was reported missing by his girlfriend on Sunday night around 11 PM after he failed to return from a trip to the mountains. He had told his girlfriend he was going for a run on the Sneffels Highline with the possibility of summiting Mount Emma at 13,581 feet above sea level. After Eells was reported missing, a Search and Rescue mission launched early on Monday with approximately a dozen crew and aerial support. Eells was located by 2 PM and determined to be deceased, prompting a recovery mission.
The San Miguel County Sheriff said the following of the incident: "We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Eells who so clearly was in the prime of his life."
Gilpin Peak, which is connected to Dallas Peak via a ridge, is considered a major summit in the Sneffels Range of the San Juan Mountains, reaching an elevation of 13,694 feet above sea level. Most people access this area via Yankee Boy Basin.
Images from the scene of the accident show snow in the area between Gilpin and Dallas Peaks, though rock is also visible. The path between the two peaks appears to be markedly jagged and exposed.
Here's a wider frame shot of the full ridge, taken via aircraft during the search and rescue mission.
The mission was described by the San Miguel County Sheriff as "very difficult and technical."
Condolences go out to the family and friends of Patrick Eells and others that may be impacted by this tragic event. Thanks goes out to search and rescue crews involved in this mission, including San Miguel County Search and Rescue and the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office, as well as Mountain Blade Runner, Olathe Spray, and Undersheriff Eric Berg for their assistance from the air.
While this accident ended tragically, Eells did something very right that should be highlighted as it could help save lives in the future. Prior to his accident, Eells gave his girlfriend specific directions regarding what his plans were for that day. Not only did this allow her to report him missing when he failed to return, this information also gave search and rescue crews an area to start their mission. This is a crucial practice when it comes to mountain safety, often expediting search and rescue operations and increasing the chance of survival. Always tell someone where you're headed and when you'll be back when entering the outdoor recreation space.