The Pueblo Chieftan

Pueblo West hiker found dead

Steve Gladbach takes a break after completing a winter ascent of North Maroon Peak. (Courtesy photo, Mark Nieport)
Steve Gladbach takes a break after completing a winter ascent of North Maroon Peak. (Courtesy photo, Mark Nieport)

The body of a missing Pueblo hiker was found by searchers Monday morning in Pitkin County.

A member of the Colorado Army National Guard helicopter crew, called in to aid the search, spotted the body of Steve Gladbach, 52, at about 11:15 a.m.

Members of a team searching on foot were notified of the location of the body and retrieved it from the area of Thunder Pyramid Peak of the Maroon Bells, located about 10 miles west of Aspen, according to Alex Burchetta of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department.

The cause of death was head trauma, according to the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office.

Gladbach was reported missing about 2 p.m. Sunday after he and two other climbers reached the summit of Pyramid Peak, according to the sheriff’s office.

Gladbach was descending the mountain ahead of the other two climbers. At some point, the other climbers realized Gladbach was lost and they searched the area on foot for him.

An air search by the Mountain Rescue Aspen was conducted Sunday night but was suspended due to darkness.

Searchers resumed looking for Gladbach Monday morning.

Gladbach, a math teacher at the Health Academy at Centennial High School, was an experienced hiker who had accomplished the rare feat of climbing all of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks in the winter.

In a May 2011 article in The Pueblo Chieftain , Gladbach spoke about the dangers of climbing but said he refused to focus on his own mortality when on a mountain.

“I know so many people who have died just because somebody kicked a rock, or had a simple slip,” he said. “There’s an expert dying every single year. That avalanche is going to happen, the question is, is it going to happen while you are there? And can you mitigate that?”

gperez@chieftain.com

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