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Hiker dies after falling off cliff at Snowdon Peak on Fourth of July

Officials say man stepped on loose rock
Search and rescue teams look for a hiker who fell from Snowdon Peak on Thursday. (San Juan Office of Emergency Management)

A 25-year-old man from Tennessee died after falling Thursday from Snowdon Peak, southwest of Silverton.

The man was part of a group of three men and three women that hiked to the top of Snowdon Peak on July 4, according to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management.

The other five hikers were uninjured and were helped off the mountain by a Flight for Life helicopter.

The man stepped on loose rock and fell 600 to 800 feet off the ridgeline of the peak, said San Juan County spokeswoman DeAnne Gallegos. She described the fall as an accident.

He was pronounced dead at the top of Snowdon Peak about 6 p.m. Thursday, according to a news release Saturday. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office received an emergency call about the fall at 4:09 p.m. Thursday, and Silverton Emergency Medical was dispatched.

On Sunday, San Juan County Coroner Keri Metzler was trying to notify next of kin and has not released the man’s name, Gallegos said.

“The mountains are dangerous, if you are coming to the San Juans to recreate, you really need to have a strong skill set and understand the risks you are putting yourself in,” San Juan County Sheriff Bruce Conrad said in the news release. “Not that there was anything wrong done by this group in this incident, it was a group of young hikers climbing a peak that is not a super-difficult peak, but one missed step can be your last one.”

“There is always high potential for loose rock in the San Juans, and there is almost no solid rock in these mountains,” said San Juan County Deputy Sheriff Adam Clifton. “There is climbing to be done, and it is definitely more dangerous terrain than areas that are more consolidated.”

Conrad added that crews were fortunate that the San Juan Mountains didn’t experience its typical afternoon storms, which can complicate a search and rescue.

“Silverton Medical Rescue would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.” said Silverton Medical Rescue Director Tyler George.


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