Rocky Mountain National Park Closes the Keyhole Route to Recover Deceased Male

by Amy Myers

As of September 17, Rocky Mountain National Park has closed the Keyhole Route of Longs Peak as teams work to recover the body of a deceassed male from above the Ledges. According to the park, the closure will be in effect on Sunday and possibly Monday, contingent on how the recovery mission goes.

It’s unclear just yet how the male died, the circumstances of his death or any details about his identity. However, Rocky Mountain National Park did state that once the recovery and investigation into the incident is complete, officials will provide more information.

The news of the death became public through the park’s Instagram, on which they shared a photo of a boulderfield on the Keyhole Route. Despite the flat terrain featured in the photo, Longs Peak is one of Colorado’ 14ers, reaching 14,259 feet high.

On the park’s site, Rocky Mountain lists the Keyhole Route as “not a hike. It is a climb that crosses enormous sheer vertical rock faces, often with falling rocks, requiring scrambling, where an unroped fall would likely be fatal. The route has narrow ledges, loose rock, and steep cliffs.”

Still, the route is an incredibly popular choice for exploring Longs Peak and sees thousands of climbers every year.

Prior to the recovery operation, Rocky Mountain National Park posted an update on Twitter that warned hikers and climbers of Longs Peak’s snowy conditions.

“This webcam photo taken just now shows new snow on the top of Longs Peak,” the tweet read. “Mt Meeker has new snow too. Snow can happen in #RMNP any time of year, especially in fall, and especially at higher elevations. PLAN AHEAD and BE AWARE OF CONDITIONS. Your safety is in your own hands.”

Fellow Outdoor Enthusiast Falls to Her Death Near Rocky Mountain National Park

Sadly, the latest discovery of the deceased man isn’t the only tragedy near Rocky Mountain National Park lately. Just two weeks ago, a 21-year-old solo hiker fell 900 feet from Capitol Peak to her death.

Like Longs Peak, Capitol Peak is another 14er, standing in at 14,137 feet in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area. It is also “one of Colorado’s most difficult mountains to climb with extreme exposure and loose, crumbling rock,” according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

A fellow climber witnessed the woman’s fatal fall and called it into authorities.

“The witness was able to provide MRA with the exact location of the woman’s body,” the sheriff’s office stated in its release. “It was then estimated that the woman had fallen approximately 900 feet, falling from the route that connects the knife edge to the Capitol Peak summit down to Pierre Lakes Basin.”

Following the discovery, teams were able to recover the woman’s body from the area.

As with the Rocky Mountain death, the sheriff’s office reminded visitors, “the Elk Mountains are treacherous and that the loose, rotting terrain can lead to unstable conditions that can cause serious injuries or death.”