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Deaf Climber falls 170 feet to his death

January 29, 2007

January 29, 2007

Local ice climber falls 170 feet to his death

Members of El Paso County Search and Rescue spent much of Sunday recovering the body of Reid Hunt. He fell down an ice wall while ice climbing with a friend near Old Stage Road. (BRYAN OLLER, THE GAZETTE)


A Colorado Springs man plummeted 170 feet to his death Sunday morning at a popular ice-climbing spot in southwest Colorado Springs.

Reid Hunt, 32, died after falling down a series of ice walls near Old Stage Road, south of Seven Falls.

“He literally was standing looking over the edge, and his feet went out from under him,” said Steve Sperry, public information officer for El Paso County Search and Rescue.

Hunt was supervisor of student life at The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind and oversaw athletics, dormitories and the transition program, said school spokeswoman Diane Covington. He had worked


at the school for three years.

“He was a great advocate for our students, a devoted husband and a rock-climbing enthusiast,” read a statement from the school.

Hunt was deaf, as was his climbing companion, Sperry said.

The two approached the ice walls from above, and Hunt was preparing to rappel down the ice when he slipped, said field-team leader Mel Druelinger, a 27-year veteran of Search and Rescue.

Hunt had not yet secured himself to the wall with ropes and wasn’t wearing metal crampons when he slipped, Druelinger said. Crampons are metal spikes that are attached to boots or shoes to provide traction on ice and snow.

Both climbers were prepared with the right equipment for climbing, including crampons and ice axes.

“They knew what they were doing,” Druelinger said.

Several other climbers on site performed CPR on Hunt, officials said. He was dead when Search and Rescue workers arrived shortly after 9 a.m., officials said.

The El Paso County Coroner’s Office has scheduled an autopsy for today.

Crews helped Reid’s friend up to the road about 11:30 a.m., shielding him from the media with an olive-green blanket as they helped him into a white Search and Rescue Suburban.

Crews lifted Hunt’s body up to Old Stage on a sked — a flat board or stretcher — using a series of ropes. They reached the top about 3:30 p.m.

Snowy, steep slopes leading down to the ice made the trek up difficult, said operations director Skee Hipszky, a 34-year veteran of Search and Rescue.

“Backcountry rescue (takes) hours,” Hipszky said.

If the climbers had been injured, crews probably would have evacuated them in a helicopter, he said. Officials said Sunday’s conditions were perfect for ice climbing — strong ice and sunny skies.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette, http://www.gazette.com/display.php?id=1329369&secid=1#/