Man from Texas dies after fall on South Maroon Peak |

Man from Texas dies after fall on South Maroon Peak

ASPEN – The “Deadly Bells” claimed another victim late Saturday afternoon when a Texas man fell more than 300 feet to the base of a narrow couloir on South Maroon Peak.Dr. Sterling Smith, 66, of Denton, Texas, was leading a group of three – his climbing partner and two men they had met earlier that day – on a descent from the summit when he lost his balance at 12,800 feet, said Mike Ferrara, a deputy with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s office. It was just after 5 p.m. when the accident occurred.Dr. Brian Ogg, who was climbing with the two men and his father, James, watched the entire scene unfold. Ogg would be the first to pronounce the man dead.”He turned around to look back up at us, and we could see him lose his balance,” said Ogg, from Westminster. “We saw him fall the first 10 or 20 feet, then he disappeared.”Ogg carefully descended the 50 degree slope on his backside and made it to where the man lay after 15 minutes. It was there that Ogg discovered that the man’s injuries were fatal. At about 6:30 p.m. authorities were notified of the accident by a Vail man who witnessed the fall, Ferrara said. Two rescue teams were dispatched immediately.The team met up with Ogg on the their trip up and were informed of the climber’s death. Ferrara said the department decided to pull the two teams out of the area and set out at 5:30 a.m. Sunday to locate and recover the body.Rescuers traversed the mountain Sunday but could not initially find the body. A helicopter was able to locate the man shortly after 10 a.m., lying at the base of a large granite boulder, Ferrara said.”The team came up to the right of him and climbed above, and from that area where they looked down, he was hidden,” Ferrara said. “The descriptions people give you [about the area] are all different because it looks different from every angle.”The man’s body was flown out by helicopter at 11 a.m.

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