By Logan Smith

CUSTER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — The body of a 44-year-old male climber was taken from the cliffside below Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle on Sunday afternoon. The climber had been reported overdue Saturday morning.

Two members of Custer County Search And Rescue (CCSAR) boarded a helicopter Saturday and spotted the climber’s body roughly 300 feet below the traverse between the two peaks, the agency stated in a Facebook post.

READ MORE: WATCH: Rescuer Drops From Helicopter To Help Injured Hiker On Crestone Needle

The man appeared to have sustained fatal injuries in the fall.

(credit: Gage Rothrock/ Custer County Search And Rescue/FaceBook)

“Due to the steep, technical terrain and the difficulty of the recovery, it was determined that the safest course of action was to field teams at first light on Sunday,” CCSAR explained.

Sunday, four CCSAR team members boarded the same helicopter provided by the Colorado Division of Fire Protection and Control’s Cañon City Helitack (DFPC) and were airlifted to a point below the body. They climbed to it from there using technical gear and ropes.

“The terrain in this area has loose, crumbling rock which increased the difficulty for the search teams.”

CCSAR late Saturday pleaded with Crestone climbers to avoid the area between the peaks and above the body.

Crestone Peak (credit: Custer County Search And Rescue/Facebook)


Following a mission in late August, CCSAR told CBS4 that a higher percentage of its rescue missions this year are occurring on those two peaks than in years past.

READ MORE: Colorado Hoist Rescue Team Honored With Military Award For Technical Rescue On Crestone Needle

Sunday, it lectured climbers of the inherent dangers of attempting a summit of either the Needle or the Peak. Route-finding has proven difficult on the descent for several climbers who have eventually required rescue.

“Custer County Search and Rescue would like to remind the public and recreational climbers that climbing solo can increase the risk of a catastrophic event. This climber was well-prepared, carried a Garmin inReach, and had extensive climbing experience. Even with the best preparation, accidents happen, and the consequences are much more severe when miles into the backcountry. We advise that you research your route, know your limits, and carry enough food, water and gear to spend an extra night out at elevation. For more information on climbing in this area, go to and click on Rescue Patterns. Stay safe out there.”


Crestone Peak (14,294 ft. elevation) and Crestone Needle (14,197 ft.) are located five miles southeast of the town of Crestone and immediately north of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. They are part of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.




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Logan Smith