ASPEN, Colo. — Two Colorado men climbing some of the state’s most famous mountains both fell after going off an unfamiliar trail on their way down a peak, killing one man and leading to the rescue of the other two days after they went missing.
David Richardson, 32, of Vail, survived despite fresh snowfall, but Jarod Wetherell, 37, of Avon, had died of blood loss by the time searchers found him Friday on North Maroon Peak, one of two peaks over 14,000 feet comprising the Maroon Bells about 10 miles west of the ski town of Aspen.
The men sent text messages to friends from the top of North Maroon Peak around 1 p.m. Wednesday. After that, they climbed the south peak before crossing over and summiting the north peak, Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Kendrick told The Aspen Times.
Richardson and Wetherell, who were not roped together, fell separately at different times as they climbed down the north peak, he said.
“There are a lot of places you get off trail coming down,” Kendrick said. “The only way you know for sure what the trail was is if you went up that way. They didn’t go up that way. They were coming back down a trail they had never been on.”
Richardson was in good condition Friday after being taken to Aspen Valley Hospital. He was later moved to a different hospital.
The Maroon Bells are among the most photographed mountains in Colorado, but the layers of weak sedimentary rock that give them their reddish hue also make them dangerous to climb. The rock can easily come loose, causing climbers to lose their footing and fall.