Rescuers on Tuesday restarted the search for a missing climber last seen three days ago in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado.
A Saguache County dispatcher confirmed that “we are still looking” for climber Luis Corkern, 41, who is believed to have descended only after reaching the top of the 14,171-foot Kit Carson Peak around 4 p.m. Saturday.
No messages have been received from Corkern, said Capt. Ken Wilson of the Saguache County Sheriff’s Department, noting that climbers often carry cell phones.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. No juice? Maybe. Maybe there’s no connection,” Wilson said.
“Too much wind, too much lightning” on Monday disrupted early search efforts around 2:30 p.m., Wilson said. And multi-agency teams led by the Saguache County Search and Rescue team planned to step up their work.
Over the weekend, authorities learned of other climbers who recalled passing Corkern on a trail that likely planned to descend via Challenger Point and a standard route. Corkern was unable to return to his vehicle, which was parked at a trailhead above the town of Crestone in the San Luis Valley.
Corkern is about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs about 180 pounds and wears a white climbing helmet with a raccoon tail attached, authorities said. His backpack was orange and maroon and he could be wearing a gray or black t-shirt or raincoat.
Authorities ask that anyone with information contact the Saguache County Sheriff at 719-655-2544.
Rescuers planned to deploy helicopters on Tuesday to fly over the high mountains. Kit Carson Peak rises above the valley about 5.2 miles east of Crestone.
A patch of ice complicates climbing on the steep west face of the peak.
During the summers, thunderstorms and lightning often create problems. Fatalities also occur when climbers descend from the summit in a corridor near Challenger Point that may seem like a shorter route but leads to fields of ice and loose rock over sheer cliffs, requiring highly technical maneuvers. Searchers in the past have recovered bodies at the base of that corridor.