A ‘large rockfall event’ struck a popular section of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the second most-visited park in the United States. And on Tuesday afternoon, a rock slide ripped into a popular bouldering area at the height of the tourism season.
“Visitors planning to recreate in the Upper Chaos Canyon or on the south slopes of Hallett Peak are advised to avoid traveling in the area,” the park noted in a Facebook post. “It will take some time for the slope to stabilize and there is significant possibility that additional rockfall may occur at any time.”
The area of the rockfall is popular for bouldering. According to Mountain Project, there are 37 climbs in the area, which is the “essence of bouldering in Rocky Mountain National Park.”
“It appears that several outcrops on the south shoulder of Hallett Peak came down,” park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said in a news release.
There have been no reports of injuries at this time. But hikers and climbers were in the area at the time, some capturing the spectacle on video. Check out a couple below.
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Here’s another video from a greater distance.
Rock slide in @RockyNPS yesterday. In upper Chaos Canyon above Lake Haiyaha, on the south side of Hallett Peak. 📷 Ryan Albert. #rockslide #rmnp #rmnprockslide #landslide #rockymountainnationalpark #earthevent #rmnpavalanche pic.twitter.com/XJxWnBAlMW
— Samuel Forsyth (@samuelmforsyth) June 29, 2022
Rocky Mountain National Park Rockfall: First-Person Account
Jeremy Fullerton, a climber from Boulder, Colo., who has been climbing in RMNP for 9 years, was bouldering in the area below the rockfall when it began.
Fullerton said that he climbs regularly in the area, as much as 50 times per year. Rockfall is common, he said, “but nothing like that.”
According to him, the slide started with a few small rocks falling. But as he was working on a problem in a long cave, he heard his two friends yelling that the top was coming down.
“There were car-size boulders falling one after another,” he said. “It went from me starting to climb to us running for our lives in like 5 minutes. The whole hillside started to move in a slow-motion pattern toward us.”
He said he and his friends ran through the tallus field to get as far away as possible.
“We were like a quarter-mile away and were enveloped by a cloud of debris,” he said. “We couldn’t see more than a foot in front of our faces.”
Fullerton relayed that the climbing in the area is almost certainly forever changed. He said that there were several large boulders up to 30 feet tall newly piled “right next to where we were standing.”
And he reiterated the park’s message that rockfall will likely continue for quite some time. As the park notes, “avoid traveling in the area” until further notice.