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Man dies in Ravalli County climbing accident

Posted at 5:40 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 19:40:40-04

HAMILTON — A man died in a weekend climbing accident in the Bitterroot.

Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton says Ravalli County Search and Rescue and the Sheriff's Office responded to a fatal climbing accident near Sugarloaf Peak on Saturday afternoon.

A group of climbers was coming down the mountain when temperatures dropped significantly, causing the ice to harden. Winds also increased, covering the trail with loose soft snow and making climbing conditions severe.

Sheriff Holton says 55-year-old Bryan Louis Kercher slipped and slid approximately 1,000 feet down a steep slope before striking a large boulder and sustaining fatal injuries.

The climbing party used an InReach emergency beacon to summon emergency services.

Ravalli County Search and Rescue responded on Saturday evening, but Sheriff Holton says due to the conditions and darkness were not able to reach the scene until the following morning.

Kercher's body was recovered on Sunday with the assistance of a Two Bear Air helicopter and Search and Rescue volunteers.