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Search efforts underway for overdue climber in Maroon Bells Wilderness Area

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Posted at 9:02 AM, Sep 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 11:22:25-04

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. -- Search efforts are underway for an overdue climber who did not return from a trip to the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area this week, authorities said. 

David Cook, 49, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, an "expert mountaineer and climber with a wealth of experience" was climbing by himself with a plan to climb Pyramid Peak on Monday, and then climb Maroon and North Maroon Peak on Tuesday. 

Later that night, a caller concerned for the safety of Cook called the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office to report him as overdue.

Mountain Rescue Aspen crews began their search and found a receipt inside Cook's car that showed he had arrived at the Maroon Bells entrance station on Monday around 11 a.m. Search and rescue crews decided not to search immediately as it "seemed plausible that Mr. Cook's climbing plans were delayed by 12-24 hours, due to his late arrival at the Maroon Bells."   

On Thursday, two helicopters -- one from Grand Junction and one from Gypsum -- were launched in order to locate Cook. One of the helicopters ended the search after only two hours, due to the high winds. The second helicopter continued searching the areas around Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, as well as the area around Pyramid Peak until 4 p.m., but was unsuccessful. 

Another search was scheduled to begin Friday morning at 7 p.m., weather permitting. 

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