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 Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.