1 climber presumed dead, another injured in avalanche on Ypsilon Mountain in RMNP

Lisa Foster, well-known outdoor author, injured

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. - Authorities say a 43-year-old man is presumed dead and a woman was injured when the two climbers were caught in an avalanche while descending Ypsilon Mountain Sunday evening in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said David Laurienti, 43, of Estes Park, is the climber believed to have been killed in the avalanche.

The injured woman climber is Lisa Foster, 45, of Estes Park, a well-known mountaineer and author of several books about the park, including "Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Hiking Guide."

The park began search efforts Monday morning after the two climbers were reported overdue, Patterson said.

At about 2:45 p.m., park rangers found Foster in the upper Fay Lakes basin, about 6 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead.

While receiving information from rescue teams in the high country has been hampered by communication difficulties, Patterson said initial reports are that Foster and Laurienti were caught in an avalanche at about 6 p.m. Sunday as they climbed down the north side of Blitzen Ridge from the 13,514-foot Ypsilon Mountain.

Foster suffered numerous injuries, Patterson said. Park rangers are providing her with medical care and are evacuating her via toboggan from Ypsilon Lake, which is about 4.5 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead. It is estimated that the team will reach the trailhead close to midnight Tuesday.

Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon Mountain is a challenging mountaineering route that includes sections of technical rock climbing, often made more difficult in winter conditions, Patterson said.

Recent snow and high winds created what the Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasted as considerable avalanche conditions in the area since Saturday. The weather forecast continues to call for periods of snow, high winds and low temperatures above 11,000 feet, Patterson said.

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