Samuel Frappier is fortunate he wasn't killed by his own bad decisions, and he knows it. "I imagine people saying I'm stupid, and they're right," the nineteen-year-old Canadian told a reporter after being rescued yesterday from Long's Peak after getting stranded on a ledge (approximate elevation: 13,000) the day before.
What were his mistakes?
First, let's get our bearings. Here's a video that offers multiple angles on Long's Peak, which tops out at 14,259 feet:
The National Parks Service page devoted to Long's Peak makes it clear that summiting the 14er isn't a mission to be taken lightly. Here's an excerpt -- and yes, the bold passage is in the original:
In the summertime, when conditions allow, thousands climb to Longs' summit via the Keyhole Route. The Keyhole Route is 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.
For most of the year, climbing Longs Peak is in winter conditions, which requires winter mountaineering experience and the knowledge and use of specialized equipment. Disregard for the mountain environment any time of year has meant danger, injury and even death.
Enter Frappier. He's clearly athletic, as evidenced by photos on his Facebook page (including the one at the top of this post) from the Reebok Spartan Race, described on its website as featuring "an obstacle course challenge for all: Super Sprint 5K obstacle racing, Super Spartan 8+ mile obstacle course and the Spartan Death race." The competition takes place at widely disparate locations: A challenge gets underway in New York this weekend, with an edition scheduled for Denver in 2015.
However, Frappier is described by 7News as an inexperienced mountaineer who headed up Long's Peak with a pal sans climbing equipment and wearing cotton clothes and tennis shoes.
The pair apparently had success on the way up -- but during their descent on Tuesday afternoon, Frappier got into trouble and wound up stuck at a point known as Broadway Ledge.
Here's a Rocky Mountain National Park photo of his position as taken from a helicopter....
...and a closer view: Frappier reached emergency crews via his cell phone -- yes, there's apparently service on Broadway Ledge -- and teams were mobilized on his behalf. In the end, 28 rescuers and several helicopters are said to have been deployed, and late yesterday afternoon, they managed to connect with him at an area called Lambs Slide and transport him to safety. Afterward, Frappier admitted that he was lucky to have survived his ordeal. Hope he remembers that when he's presumably asked to pay for all or part of the cost expended on getting him to safety.
Here's a 7News report about Frappier, including an interview segment.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive circa December 2013: "Suicide by freezing prevented by CU student's roommate, rescue crew at Chautauqua."