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Rocky Mountain National Park  Accident

(National Park Service) On Saturday, September 4th, Sudheer Averineni, a 26-year-old Indian national, attempted a climb of the Keyhole route on Longs Peak, the park's popular “Fourteener” (a “Fourteener” is any mountain over 14,000 feet – Longs Peak is 14,259 feet high). The Keyhole route is still classified as "technical" due to snow and ice conditions, only the second known year since the early 1920's that this route has remained technical throughout the entire summer season.

While attempting the summit, Averineni's two companions turned back near the Keyhole formation around 13,000 feet due to deteriorating conditions. Averineni continued on, though, and was last seen a short distance below the summit just after noon. When he failed to returned that evening, a search was begun. Conditions on Longs Peak from Saturday afternoon through Sunday were severe – fresh snow, rime ice, recorded winds in excess of 60 mph, and temperatures well below freezing.

Averineni's body was found on the summit around 1 p.m. on Sunday. He was dressed in sneakers, jeans, a cotton shirt, and a cotton sweatshirt. A cell phone was found in his pocket. The cause of death has been determined to have been exposure. This was reportedly Averineni's third attempt on Longs Peak this year. The recovery of his body was delayed until Monday due to weather and winds. The summit of Longs Peak remained closed to public use until that time.

Rangers also dealt with two other rescues early this week. A 13-year-old girl on an organized group outing with Cheley Camp of Estes Park was evacuated by air ambulance from the north side of Longs Peak on Monday. She was experiencing difficulties associated with a pre-existing medical condition. She was flown to Children's Hospital in Denver, where she experienced – but survived – sudden cardiac arrest. That evening, a man in his early 20's was evacuated by horse from the south side of Longs Peak. He sustained a lower leg injury while climbing, but was able to “self-rescue” over difficult terrain until he met up with rangers on the Sandbeach Lake trail.

[Submitted by Mark Magnuson, Chief Ranger]

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