A 53-year-old woman tragically plummeted to her death on Wednesday while climbing a via ferrata route in Colorado.
The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed the 53-year-old victim from Tucson, Arizona was climbing Telluride's Via Ferrata with her friend when she slipped and fell approximately 200 feet on Wednesday just before noon.
Dispatch received report of a "woman who had fallen a substantial distance and was apparently not moving," according to the sheriff's office.
Another party, who was about 100 feet behind the two women, called 911 after hearing something alarming and spotting the victim below. First responders arrived on the scene and determined that the woman had suffered fatal injuries.
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Rescuers hiked 700 vertical feet to the scene and used a technical rope system to lower the body.
The incident happened about 11:30 a.m, with more than 30 first responders participated in the recovery mission. The woman's name has not been released.
A via ferrata route, which translates to “iron path,” is a network of technical climbing routes equipped with steel cables, iron rungs, and suspended bridges fixed to the side of the mountain. Climbers use these cables, rungs, and bridges for safety, switching between two points of connection by using a harness with special equipment so that they are never unprotected. This allows people to travel technical terrain safely without ropes.
In this case, it is unclear what the reason was behind the accident. Some of the less technical sections of the Telluride Via Ferrata don't feature the steel cables, with these areas described as narrow hiking paths with exposure. A dangerous slip could be very possible in these areas. Other possibilities may include improper use of gear or gear failure, though that is rare.
“This is a tragic accident and unimaginable loss for this woman’s family, and on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, we offer our sincere condolences,” Sheriff Bill Masters said. “The Via Ferrata is a hazardous climbing route that attracts more and more people each year. This incident is a horrible reminder of the dangers inherent to this climb."
“This is a tragic accident & unimaginable loss for this woman’s family, & on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, we offer our sincere condolences,” Sheriff Bill Masters said. “The Via Ferrata is a hazardous climbing route that attracts more and more people each year. This incident is— San Miguel Sheriff (@SheriffAlert) August 6, 2021
The Sheriff Masters went on to thank search and rescue stating "in the last two days, we've had two demanding missions, both physically and emotionally, and I am genuinely appreciative of each and every one of these men and women."
Thanks goes out to the responding agencies, including Deputies, San Miguel County Search and Rescue, and Telluride Fire Protection District EMS and Fire.
Telluride's Via Ferrata traverses rock up to 600 feet above a box canyon overlooking Bridal Veil Falls and the San Juan Mountains.
As with any outdoor recreation activity, climbing a Via Ferrata involves significant inherent risk of serious physical injury or even death. Proceed with extreme caution and always use the proper equipment for the job.
Editor’s Note: Here’s a quick piece regarding why we’ve decided to include accident and death coverage in our collection of content.
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