Climber Falls 80 To 120 Feet in Eldorado Canyon
3/20/14 - Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19, rescue crews found a man, described as "college-aged," lying on the ground near Wind Tower in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. He was wearing technical climbing gear, and officials said it wasn't clear what caused the fall or why his gear did not stop the fall. Sergeant Dave Booton of the Sheriff's Office says officials were estimating that he fell somewhere between 80 and 120 feet. Rocky Mountain Rescue took him to a nearby fire station where he was then airlifted by helicopter to St. Anthony Hospital in Denver.
A person who claims to have been first on the scene says that he fell 80 feet from the chains due to a miscommunication at the belay. Wind Tower is known for having some of the easiest climbs in the area, and it is a heavily trafficked formation. The man's identity and condition are not available at this time, but check back for updates.
3/24/14 Update: The Daily Camera reports that Ian Johnson, 19, is in "critical but stable" condition at St. Anthony hospital in Lakewood, Colorado, after falling 80 to 120 feet off Wind Tower. Johnson, a student at the University of Wyoming, was climbing with fellow student Maxwell Chandler, 19, when the accident happened. Officials are still investigating the cause of the fall, but we spoke with a person who was climbing nearby and was first on the scene to assist Johnson.
Two climbers, who asked to remain anonymous, had just finished Diffraction (5.10a/b) to The Metamorphosis (5.10a) on the South Face of Wind Tower and had rappelled back to the ground. They were coiling the rope when they heard the climber beginning to fall. One witness said, "I watched him fall 80 feet near Wind Ridge, but I'm not sure which route he was on." The pair rushed to his side, stabilized him, and called 911. They sent the victim's partner into town to alert the rangers, and an ambulance arrived about 15 to 20 minutes after that. The witness said Johnson was "awake and aware but couldn't respond to who, what, when, how."
After being airlifted to St. Anthony, Johnson had surgery on Thursday and remains in the intensive care unit in "critical but stable" condition, according hospital spokeswoman Sharon Burnette.
Source: Daily Camera; interview with witness