One person is dead after a fatal fall over the weekend at the Colorado National Monument. 

People visiting the monument noticed a red life-flight helicopter flying around the Independence Monument just before noon on Saturday.

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Fatal Fall from Colorado's Independence Monument

A 67-year-old climber fell just before noon on Saturday while climbing the 450-foot Independence Monument. This sandstone pillar is one of the more popular climbing destinations inside the Colorado National Monument. The climber has been identified as Andrew Whiteside who was visiting the Monument from Lutherville Timonium, Maryland.  Colorado National Monument rangers said they were notified about 11:50 am on Saturday morning about the incident.

Rescue Teams Had to Hike in and Climb to the Victim

It's serious business when someone falls inside the Colorado National Monument. Right away, teams from the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Mesa County Search and Rescue, the Lower Valley Fire District, and the Monument Rangers all responded to the emergency. It's unclear still how far the climber fell. It's unknown for now if the climber fell from the top of the Independence Monument. Climbing Independence Monument requires anyone attempting the climb to place their own safety gear as they go. Setting gear incorrectly can result in a fatal fall but it is unknown what caused the fall at this time.

How Many People Have Died at the Colorado National Monument?

A study of fatalities at State Parks, National Parks, and National Monuments reports that 12 people have previously died at the Colorado National Monument over the years. Lake Mead National Recreation Area in California has seen the most fatalities with 201. The Grand Canyon National Park is second with 131 fatalities.

How Many Routes Lead Up Independence Monument?

There are six established climbing routes to get to the top of the Independence Monument according to Wikipedia.

  • Otto's Route - Class 5.8+ - 5 pitches - First Ascent 1911 (John Otto)
  • Independence Chimney - Class 5.8 - 6 Pitches - First Ascent 1970 (Mike Dudley and Fletcher Smith)
  • South Face Direct - Class 5.9 - 5 Pitches - First Ascent 1971 (Mike Dudley, Art Howells, Don Doucette)
  • Sundial Dihedral - Class 5.11b - 6 Pitches - First Ascent 1986 (Ed Webster and peter Athans)
  • Dependance - Class 5.10+ - 5 Pitches - First Ascent 1994 (Jon Butler, Cam Burns, Luke Laeser)
  • Geezer Highway - Class 5.9+ - 6 Pitches (Mike Dudley and Dennis Willis)

MORE: How to Stay Safe While Hiking in Colorado

Is it safe to go hiking in western Colorado? It sure is, but the difference between a risky hike and a safe one is all about preparation.

Gallery Credit: Wes Adams

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