Rangers find body of climber, David Laurienti, killed in avalanche at Rocky Mountain National Park

Climbing partner, Lisa Foster, seriously injured

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. - A search team has found the body of a 43-year-old male climber who authorities believe was killed in a fall during an avalanche that seriously injured a fellow climber Sunday at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Searchers found David Laurienti’s body about 2 p.m. Tuesday on the north slope of Ypsilon Mountain, said park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson.

Unable to safely remove his body Tuesday, park rangers moved it to a more secure location, Patterson said. The six-person park team involved in the recovery will be coming out of the backcountry on Tuesday night. 

On Wednesday, park rangers will evaluate options for the safe recovery of the body, Patterson said. The recovery effort will be dictated largely by weather, wind and avalanche conditions.   

Park officials believe Laurienti, of Estes Park, died from injuries sustained in a fall, likely occurring in an avalanche, Patterson said.

Laurienti’s climbing partner, Lisa Foster, 45, of Estes Park, was seriously injured during the avalanche that struck the pair as they descended Ypsilon Mountain.

Foster told rangers the pair was hit by an avalanche about 6 p.m. Sunday as they climbed down the north side of Blitzen Ridge from the 13,514-foot mountain, Patterson said. Foster is a well-known hiking guide and author of several books about the park, including "Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Hiking Guide."

Park rangers launched a search Monday morning after the two climbers were reported overdue, Patterson said.

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

Foster suffered numerous injuries, Patterson said. Park rangers evacuated her on a toboggan from Ypsilon Lake, which is about 4.5 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead. The rescue team and Foster reached the trailhead at 1 a.m. Tuesday. Larimer County Search and Rescue assisted in the evacuation.

Foster was transported by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center. Details on her injuries and condition were not released.

Over 32 park rescuers were involved in Monday’s efforts along with six members of Larimer County Search and Rescue.