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Missing hiker found dead in San Juan Mountains, west of Lake City

Denver man reported overdue late Sunday
Authorities say Ben Brownlee of Denver was hiking alone when he went missing last weekend. His body was found Tuesday.

A 26-year-old Denver man who went missing while solo hiking in the San Juan Mountains was found dead late Tuesday, according to authorities.

Ben Brownlee was last seen around 11:30 a.m. Saturday hiking from the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead, which is located on the east side of Cinnamon Pass, about 18 miles southwest of Lake City.

According to the Hinsdale County Office of Emergency Management, Brownlee spoke with two hikers while coming down a mountain known as “Unnamed Peak.” He told them he had summited and was on his way to climb to the top of the adjacent Redcloud Peak.

Brownlee was reportedly an experienced and avid hiker.

Brownlee was reported overdue late Sunday, and a search and rescue mission was launched Monday morning, which included more than a dozen ground crews as well as several helicopters.

Brownlee’s car was found at the trailhead of Redcloud and Sunshine peaks on Hinsdale County Road 30, a popular recreation area. But search crews, which included family and friends, were unable to locate him Monday.

Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, a private helicopter chartered by his family located what is believed to be Brownlee’s body about 75 to 100 feet below a steep, rocky ridge, southeast of Cooper Creek Peak.

According to the Hinsdale County Office of Emergency Management, the ridge runs between Cooper Creek Trail and Silver Creek Trail.

Authorities planned to recover Brownlee’s body on Wednesday, which will require specialized technical operations to reach the location.

Next of kin has been notified, according to the Office of Emergency Management.

Attempts to reach Hinsdale County spokeswoman Sandy Hines were not successful Wednesday.


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