For second day, rescuers search for missing climber in Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo mountains

Rescue crews on Tuesday re-launched their search for a missing climber last seen three days ago in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of southern Colorado.

A Saguache County dispatcher confirmed “we are still searching” for climber Luis Corkern, 41, who is believed to have been descending alone after reaching the summit of 14,171-foot Kit Carson Peak around 4 p.m. Saturday.

No messages from Corkern have been received, Captain Ken Wilson in the Saguache County Sheriff’s Department said, noting climbers typically carry cell phones.

“I don’t know of anybody who doesn’t. Out of juice? Maybe. Maybe no connection,” Wilson said.

“Too much wind, too much lightning” on Monday cut short the first search efforts around 2:30 p.m., Wilson said. And multi-agency crews led by the Saguache County Search and Rescue team were planning to intensify their work.

Over the weekend, authorities learned from other climbers who recalled passing Corkern along a trail that he likely planned to descend via the Challenger Point and a standard route. Corkern didn’t make it back to his vehicle, parked at a trailhead above the town of Crestone in the San Luis Valley.

Corkern is about 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighing around 180 pounds, and was wearing a white climbing helmet with a raccoon tail tied to it, authorities said. His backpack was orange and maroon and he might be wearing a grey or black t-shirt or raincoat.

The authorities asked that anybody with information please contact the Saguache County Sheriff at 719-655-2544.

Rescuers planned to deploy helicopters Tuesday to hover over the high mountains. Kit Carson Peak towers over the valley about 5.2 miles east of Crestone.

An ice patch complicates climbing on the rugged west face of the peak.

During summers, thunderstorms and lightning often create problems. Fatalities also occur when climbers descend the peak in a couloir near Challenger Point that can look like a shorter route but leads to ice fields and loose rock above sheer cliffs – requiring highly technical maneuvers. Searchers in the past have recovered bodies at the base of that couloir.

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