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How Expert Climber Molly Berkenhoff Was Rescued After Boulder Canyon Fall

Rescue personnel transporting injured climber Molly Berkenhoff late last night. Additional photos below.
Rescue personnel transporting injured climber Molly Berkenhoff late last night. Additional photos below. Photo by Deputy Neal McQuarie courtesy of Boulder County Sheriff's Office
Last night, June 21, Molly Berkenhoff, an expert climber living in Arvada, was rescued following a Boulder Canyon fall that resulted in possible lower spinal fractures, among other injuries.

As is clear from photos on Berkenhoff's Facebook page, she's no climbing novice. Here's an October 2016 shot captioned "Bouldering in Boulder":

click to enlarge Molly Bernkenhoff seen "bouldering in Boulder." - FACEBOOK
Molly Bernkenhoff seen "bouldering in Boulder."
Facebook
And this image shows her taking an obviously challenging route:

click to enlarge Molly Berkenhoff traversing a challenging route. - FACEBOOK
Molly Berkenhoff traversing a challenging route.
Facebook
The most recent incident is summarized by Sergeant Clay Leak of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.


At approximately 7:37 p.m., the Boulder County Communications Center received a 911 about an injured rock climber.

The address, 32000 Boulder Canyon Drive, corresponds to an area near Boulder Falls.

According to the BCSO's Leak, Berkenhoff was climbing the "old-school" route of the Bell Buttress with two others and using a belay — a device used to manage rope slack and tension — when two pieces of rock protection pulled out.

Berkenhoff fell approximately 20 to 25 feet, breaking her ankle and potentially suffering the aforementioned spinal fractures.


Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, Nederland Fire and AMR Ambulance assisted the BCSO with the rescue that followed; a helicopter was also on call but wasn't needed. And it's a good thing the crew was so large: The sheriff's office notes that the climbing area was on the opposite side of the creek from the road, so personnel had to set up a Tyrolean traverse, as seen in the photo at the top of this post, to transport her across the creek in a litter.

click to enlarge Molly Berkenhoff's current Facebook profile pic. - FACEBOOK
Molly Berkenhoff's current Facebook profile pic.
Facebook
Getting Berkenhoff help took hours. The incident finally closed at 10:12 p.m.

As for Berkenhoff, she was transported to Boulder Community Hospital. At this writing, there's been no update on her condition.

By the way, the BCSO points out that the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group is "an all-volunteer, non-profit organization serving the Boulder County area, and summer is their busiest time of year." Anyone interested in donating or volunteering is encouraged to visit RockyMountainRescue.org.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts