Texas hiker dies after slipping on scree field in Colorado

Scree field on mountainside, Colorado
(Image credit: Getty)

A hiker has died after slipping on scree while hiking near Heckert Pass, Colorado. Charles Smith from Garden Ridge, Texas, was on a nine-day expedition with his friend Devin McKay when the accident happened.

The pair were hiking below the pass when they came across a scree field – a mass of small pieces of rock that has broken off a cliff or mountain over time. The pair decided to split up, with McKay heading towards the trees and Smith taking a different route down the field. While McKay was traversing the field, he heard a scream, and turned to see Smith rolling down and over the ridgeline.

As The Aspen Times reports, McKay used his Garmin inReach satellite communicator to summon help, and Mountain Rescue Aspen worked with the Colorado Army National Guard to find the fallen hiker using a helicopter and drone. Sadly Smith had died from his injuries sustained in the accident, and his body was retrieved using a hoist.

Why is scree dangerous?

Scree is inherently unstable and the small rocks tend to slide over one another, making it easy for hikers to slip and slide. In fact, some trail runners deliberately seek out fields for scree running, using it to help them descend more quickly

"The risks of personal injury while scree running can be anything from cuts by rocks and boulders being jarred into your ankles to falling over and breaking bones," elite trail runner and coach Brian Sharp of Mountain Wave Coaching told Advnture in an interview last year.

Sharp also noted that running on scree is controversial because it involves moving a lot of rock on the mountain and accelerating erosion.

If you have to traverse scree, proper hiking boots and trekking poles will help you get as much grip as possible. Wearing gaiters is also a good idea to prevent small rocks getting into your boots. Move slowly to control your descent, and dig in your heels to help stop you sliding. Focus on your balance, and don't rush.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.