One of Colorado’s deadliest fourteeners just got deadlier: On Tuesday, June15, 18-year-old Kevin Hayne died after falling on 14,037-foot Little Bear. He had been climbing through the Hourglass, an area known for dangerous rockfall and falling potential, when he fell. After the alleged malfunction of their SPOT devices, his climbing partner hiked out to get help. He posted an account on the 14ers.com message board:
We were hiking the hourglass just shy of the summit of Little Bear Peak. The hourglass was completely iced over and was impassible, we decided to take a ledge on the left side of the hourglass and decided to wait and see if the sun would help melt anything out. 30 seconds after this decision was made, Kevin’s hand/foothold (i could not see all of him) broke lose and he fell several hundred yards down the mountain..
When I got to him he was breathing heavily and both his arms looked broken, both of our SPOT trackers malfunctioned at a terrible time,” wrote the poster. “I waited 30 minutes by chance that the distress signal did go out, tried to comfort Kevin, and after no response from either Kevin or search and rescue, I made the hardest decision of my life and had to hike out, leaving my bruised and bloody partner behind.
Things went from bad to worse when a rotor blade from the Chinook rescue chopper clipped the edge of Blanca peak, forcing a hard landing. No one was injured, but by the time rescue crews reached Hayne, he had already passed away.
By all accounts, Hayne was an experienced mountaineer, but the Hourglass can be particularly precarious for anyone, and new variables leave little room for error. That morning, both climbers reported finding verglas frozen to the rock.
Condolences to the Hayne family. Donations in his name can be made to his high school or the SAR teams involved in his attempted recovery.