The body of a deceased Minnesota mountain climber was retrieved from the south side of Montana’s highest peak on Tuesday.
The man, whom authorities have not yet identified, fell to his death while climbing 12,807-foot-high Granite Peak with his son Saturday. The 65-year-old victim slipped while ascending, falling about 150 feet when he was roughly 120 feet from the summit, Park County Sheriff Brad Bichler told The Billings Gazette on Monday.
The two climbers had approached Granite Peak from the Cooke City side, which the sheriff called an "inherently more difficult side to climb from."
The high angle rescue team from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue made the evacuation, which was repeatedly delayed as the crew waited for ideal flying weather in the thin air of the Beartooth Mountains.
Bichler said two team members were lowered to a ledge from a helicopter via long lines so they could prepare the victim for helicopter transport. The entire process took more than five hours in what he called a "fairly dicey" situation.
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"It's very steep, very difficult working conditions," Bichler said. "There was no place to put the copter down."
Such use of rescue personnel is becoming more common, the sheriff said, noting that a month ago a woman was rescued from the Bridger Mountains after falling while skiing a couloir and an injured climber and a victim were retrieved from Mount Cowen in the Absaroka Mountains.
"Unfortunately the area is so rugged and remote that the only way to do it is through air assets, it's the only way to get to them," Bichler said.
Bichler praised the rescue team noting it takes a high level of training and involves a certain amount of risk that those involved attempt to minimize. It also takes an outstanding pilot to fly in such conditions, he noted.