Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

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August 6, 2014
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Climber’s body found near Capitol Peak

Search-and-rescue personnel recovered the body of a missing climber found in the Mount Daly Basin on Wednesday morning, but not before three people were injured during the rescue effort.

The missing climber was identified as Jim Nelson, 53, of Salt Lake City, by family friend Seth Mitchell.

Two Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers and an onlooker required hospital attention after the onlooker caused a rockslide during the rescue effort, authorities said.

A relative of Nelson’s contacted the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday to say that Nelson had not returned home as scheduled, according to a statement. Nelson also had failed to report to work on Tuesday.

Nelson was described as an experienced climber and outdoor enthusiast. An investigation into the whereabouts of the individual started immediately. His car was located late Tuesday night at the trailhead to Capitol Peak.

At approximately 8:30 a.m. searchers reportedly combed the area surrounding Capitol Peak. Around 11:30 a.m., the search team spotted what they believed to be a body in the Mount Daly Basin above Moon Lake at an elevation of about 11,000 feet. A search helicopter reportedly was able to land nearby and positively identified the body as Nelson’s.

As the body was being moved to the helicopter, an person watching the effort from above the accident scene caused a rockslide with debris striking two rescue workers. The onlooker and one rescue worker had to leave the scene for immediate medical attention. The second stricken rescue worker reportedly stayed to help recover Nelson’s body before receiving treatment for her injuries.

According to Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Burchetta, the onlooker and first rescue worker who received medical attention were both in satisfactory condition. There is no update on the second rescue worker’s condition.

“I just want to reiterate to the public that there are real risks anytime you access the backcountry,” Burchetta said. “It can be dangerous, even for trained rescue workers.”

An investigation is under way into what caused the accident that led to Nelson’s death.

According to Burchetta, Nelson was hiking alone, and his body was airlifted off the mountain.

Staff writer Jill Beathard contributed to this report.


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The Post Independent Updated Aug 6, 2014 09:56PM Published Aug 8, 2014 11:30PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.