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Hiker survives a night on the exposed cliff of Colorado 14er

El Diente Peak in Colorado
El Diente Peak is one of the most challenging 14ers in Colorado (Image credit: Charles Baden)

A Durango man has been safely airlifted off El Diente Peak in southwest Colorado after getting into difficulty and spending the night amid high rugged terrain on the 14er.

According to San Miguel County Sheriff's Office, the 35-year-old hiker requested help after losing the route on the 14er located in the San Juans near Telluride. El Diente Peak is notoriously difficult to navigate and with additional hazards such as exposure and potential rockfall, it is considered one of the most challenging 14ers in the state. El Diente is Spanish for ‘the tooth’ referring to the peak’s sharp, jagged shape which requires class 3 and 4 scrambling to summit. 

A rescue helicopter hovers above stranded hikers on a mountain

A helicopter was required to airlift the stranded hiker to safety (Image credit: Hans Neleman)

The sheriff’s office reported that the man stated he was uninjured but cliffed out, meaning he’d reached a point where cliffs prevented him from ascending or descending any further. The hiker was well-prepared and therefore able to spend the night on the cliff. 

Colorado Highland Helicopters located the man the following morning at approximately 13,600ft and airlifted him to safety.

Climbing a class 3 or higher 14er requires expertise and climbing equipment. You should venture out with the aid of a map, compass and GPS tracking device and know how to use them to navigate safely. 

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Adventure.com. She is an author, mountain enthusiast and yoga teacher who loves heading uphill on foot, ski, bike and belay. She recently returned to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland after 20 years living in the USA, 11 of which were spent in the rocky mountains of Vail, Colorado where she owned a boutique yoga studio and explored the west's famous peaks and rivers. She is a champion for enjoying the outdoors sustainably as well as maintaining balance through rest and meditation, which she explores in her book Restorative Yoga for Beginners, a beginner's path to healing with deep relaxation. She enjoys writing about the outdoors, yoga, wellness and travel. In her previous lives, she has also been a radio presenter, music promoter, university teacher and winemaker.