The summer 2011 edition of Trail & Timberline, a quarterly publication from the Colorado Mountain Club, includes an interesting article on fatalities while climbing Longs Peak throughout the history of Rocky Mountain National Park. Included with the article was a map charting the location of each fatality, as well as a list of those who have died over the years.
* Among the 60 fatalities on Longs Peak between 1915 and 2010, only 4 were women. This likely has a lot to do with the ratio of men versus women climbing the mountain during that time period, but could also suggest that women take less risks or are more careful. Unfortunately there's not enough data to make any solid conclusions regarding this.
* The average age for those that have died on the mountain is 32.5. The oldest person to die was 75 when he slipped on ice along the Narrows section of the Keyhole Route. There were also two 16-year-olds that have died on the peak, one in 1932, and the other in 1980. A total of 9 victims were teenagers, which represents 15% of all deaths.
* During the first decade of the 21st Century, 8 fatalities have been recorded. However, the deadliest decade was the 1970s when the mountain claimed the lives of 13 people.
* Two-thirds of all deaths were the result of a fall - roped and unroped.
* The technical East Face route has witnessed the most fatalities during the lifespan of the park: 14. However, the Keyhole Route reported 13 deaths during that same time period. Additionally, three other people have died at or near the Keyhole, while another died of hypothermia at the Boulder Field.
* 20 people have died on the mountain for reasons other than falls, including 6 that had heart attacks, 4 hypothermia, 3 by lightning, and 3 by exhaustion and exposure. Two people have died as a result of suicide, including one person who ingested anti-freeze at the Narrows in 1979. It's not clear as to whether she was trying to kill herself, or trying to stave off the cold.
* One other notable death occurred in 1889 - prior to the park's establishment. This man was descending down the Homestretch on the Keyhole Route when a loaded pistol fell out of his pocket and discharged into his neck.
If considering a hike to the Keyhole or Chasm Lake, or a climb to the summit of Longs Peak, it's always a good idea to know your limits and to respect the mountain.
For more information on hiking to Chasm Lake, please click here.
For more information on hiking to the Keyhole, please click here.