Photo courtesy of Hinsdale County Office of Emergency Management via Facebook. 

A solo hiker who had been reported missing Sunday evening in the San Juan Mountains near Lake City has been found dead after two days of searching.

Ben Brownlee, 26, of Denver was reported missing Sunday when he did not return from his solo hiking trip, according to the Hinsdale County Office of Emergency Management.

Brownlee had been last seen by another hiker on Saturday morning in the general area east of Redcloud Peak. According to officials, his itinerary was to hike 13,000-foot peaks in the Lake City area of the San Juan Mountains.

Brownlee's vehicle was found parked at the trailhead of Redcloud and Sunshine Peak early on Monday. Authorities then began searching for the "experienced and avid hiker" by ground and helicopter. 

More than a dozen search and rescue personnel, along with Brownlee’s family and friends, continued searching again on Tuesday. The body of a man matching the missing 26-year-old hiker's description was spotted at about 5 PM on Tuesday with the use of a private helicopter chartered by the family.

Friends identified the body as Brownlee about 75 to 100 feet below a steep rocky ridge southeast of Cooper Creek Peak. The ridge runs between Cooper Creek Trail and Silver Creek Trail off of County Road 30, southwest of Lake City along the Alpine Loop.

Wednesday's recovery efforts will require specialized technical operations to reach and retrieve the body, according to officials. 

Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Brownlee. Special thanks also goes out to the crews involved the search and recovery efforts including the Hinsdale County Sheriff's Office, Hinsdale County Search and Rescue, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, and Western State Search and Rescue personnel from Gunnison.

Editor’s Note: Here’s a quick piece regarding why we’ve decided to include accident and death coverage in our collection of content. 

Breanna Sneeringer writes about news, adventure, and more for OutThere Colorado as a Digital Content Producer. She is an avid adventure seeker and wildflower enthusiast. Breanna joined OutThere Colorado in September 2018.


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(1) comment


Wisdom would dictate that you never go hiking alone in the mountains.

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