rocky mountain national park rockslide
ABC News via Youtube

Climbers Barely Escape Massive Rockslide in Rocky Mountain National Park


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Last week in Rocky Mountain National Park, four climbers ran for their lives as "rocks the size of an apartment" crashed down the south side of Hallett Peak where they had just been climbing. Jeremy Fullerton, from Boulder, Colorado, was attempting a route on a boulder in a cave when his three friends William Mondragon, Levi Van Weddingen, and Mike Vice started screaming that the top of the mountain had fallen off.

Fullerton told ABC Denver 7, "We ran outside the cave and sure enough, within five minutes, we were essentially running for our lives away from the rockfall area because if we stayed where I was just climbing five minutes ago, we would have died for sure."

The four men are familiar with rockfall activity that fall during a freeze-thaw period, which is when the snow that has frozen in between rock cracks expands and makes the cracks bigger before melting. But on Tuesday afternoon, June 28th, Fullerton said the rocks were more "active" than usual, and they actually had seen several rockfalls from a safe distance throughout the day.

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Later on, Fullerton's friends were quietly watching him climb in Upper Chaos Canyon area before suddenly yelling that they needed to leave immediately. Fullerton dropped from the boulder onto a mat and they abandoned their belongings while booking it down the mountain. They found their way to a safe space until the rockfall settled down, then began debating whether they should go back for their gear, shoes, and cellphones.

Fullerton's friends went back to recover their stuff and Fullerton kept an eye out in case the rocks started to fall again. Sure enough, he saw the crack in the cliff start to widen and yelled at his friends to run. While his friends scrambled back down again, Fullerton gave them directions to help them avoid the falling rocks above them. They continued down until reaching a safe place far from the rockfall.

While Fullerton explained he was thankful everyone was safe, he also mentioned that the climbing community would be mourning the loss of boulder routes destroyed never to be climbed again in the same way hikers would mourn popular hiking trails that have been demolished. But at least there will be new routes and ascents created by the massive rockslide to explore.

Thankfully there have been no reports of any injuries, but this video footage is enough to convince anyone mountain climbing to always practice extreme caution.

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