Expert climber, ex-Marine still missing |

Expert climber, ex-Marine still missing

A climber missing in the Maroon Bells area was not found Friday during a second difficult day of searching.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Friday evening that helicopter crews had searched unsuccessfully both Thursday and Friday for 49-year-old David Cook of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Cook, a former Marine described as an expert mountaineer with extensive experience, was reported to be climbing by himself earlier in the week. Authorities said they were told that Cook planned to climb Pyramid Peak on Monday, then Maroon and North Maroon peaks on Tuesday.

He was reported missing Tuesday evening when a friend hadn’t heard from him.

Authorities found his car at noon Wednesday with a receipt indicating he arrived at the Maroon Bells entrance station at 11 a.m. Monday. Given that he had a late start for his climbing plans, Mountain Rescue Aspen decided to wait to launch a search.

One helicopter Thursday abandoned the search in the morning because of high winds, but through the day, helicopters searched all three peaks without success.

Friday evening’s report said that a team of five climbers started searching early Friday morning, and that a helicopter from the National Guard HAATS unit from Gypsum joined the search around 8:30 a.m.

The ground team encountered blowing snow conditions and poor visibility, which hampered search efforts. Pitkin County officials said the search was called off because of the weather, but will be resumed today if conditions permit.

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