Lenexa An 18-year-old suburban Kansas City man who was killed last week while climbing near one of Colorado’s most popular peaks is the second person in two months to die on the mountain.
Nicholas L. Hellbusch, of Lenexa, died Friday morning after apparently falling while climbing above the standard route to the summit of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, The Kansas City Star reported.
Evidence suggests that Hellbusch struck his head while falling and landed below the Ledges, part of the eight-mile Keyhole Route to the 14,259-foot peak that is visible from Denver and one of the most popular “14er” mountains to summit in the state.
His family declined to comment to the newspaper on Monday.
Matthew Burklow, 25, of Fort Collins, Colo., died in June while descending the peak. His body also was found below the Keyhole Route, a popular but challenging route that crosses some sheer vertical rock faces.
A climber notified park rangers around 7 a.m. Friday that he and his group had seen a body. Rangers reached the area at 10:15 a.m. and confirmed Hellbusch was dead. A U.S. Forest Service helicopter recovered the body, which was transferred to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office.
The National Park Service said the weather on the mountain that morning was clear and warm. Weather, including quickly developing afternoon thunderstorms, can create problems for climbers who typically start their climb before dawn to be off the mountain before storms roll in.
Rangers were called in on Monday to search for Jay Yambert, 56, of Champaign, Ill., after his family reported he was overdue. He later called his family to report that he spent an unplanned night on the mountain and then got lost in heavy fog.
Longs Peak is the centerpiece of Rocky Mountain National Park and attracts thousands of visitors a year, according to a park service guide. More than 60 people have died on or near Longs Peak since 1884, according to a 2011 article in Trail & Timberline, the journal of the Colorado Mountain Club.