Teen who died in fall ID’d as as­pir­ing SEAL

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Mitchell Byars Daily Cam­era

The 17-year-old who died in a fall from the First Flat­iron Sun­day was from Min­nesota and was vis­it­ing friends in Long­mont.

The Boul­der County Coroner’s Of­fice iden­ti­fied the teen Wed­nes­day as Carter Chris­tensen of Maple Grove, Minn.

The Boul­der County Sher­iff’s Of­fice said Chris­tensen was free-solo­ing — climb­ing alone, with­out the use of ropes or gear — on the First Flat­iron on Sun­day when he fell pos­si­bly more than 100 feet and suf­fered “mas­sive trau­matic in­juries.”

No­body wit­nessed the fall, but sev­eral peo­ple in the area heard it and re­sponded to help. Res­cuers dis­cov­ered Chris­tensen near the bot­tom of the First Flat­iron. He was un­con­scious, with­out a pulse and not breath­ing. He was de­clared dead at the scene.

Chris­tensen posted a pic­ture on In­sta­gram from near the top of the First Flat­iron shortly be­fore the fall was re­ported by a hiker at 6 p.m., but in­ves­ti­ga­tors were not im­me­di­ately sure whether tak­ing the photo was re­lated to his fall.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from his fam­ily, Chris­tensen, a re­cent high school grad­u­ate, was vis­it­ing friends in Long­mont be­fore en­list­ing in the Navy with hopes of be­com­ing a SEAL.

“Carter was a lover of the out­doors and an ad­ven­tur­ous spirit and was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing joy in sum­mit­ing the First Flat­iron in Chau­tauqua Park,” the fam­ily said in its state­ment. “Carter will be loved and missed by all of his fam­ily and friends.”

Chris­tensen had climb­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and had been up the Flatirons, but he had never reached the top of the First Flat­iron be­fore, his friend Michael Kel­ley said.

Kelly said he saw Chris­tensen the day be­fore his death and said Chris­tensen didn’t men­tion any­thing about a climb.

“The only way we knew he was up there was be­cause of the photo,” Kelly said of the In­sta­gram post­ing. “I just think he woke up in the morn­ing and was need­ing some­thing to do.”

Kelly said the friend Chris­tensen was stay­ing with called Sun­day night to say he hadn’t heard from Chris­tensen all day. One friend called po­lice while Kelly headed from Berthoud to Boul­der.

“I saw the pic­ture, so I knew where he had been,” Kelly said. “But when I got there, there was a po­lice of­fi­cer al­ready wait­ing.

“My friend had al­ready talked to him, and he came up and all he could say was, ‘He’s dead.’ ”

Chris­tensen’s fam­ily asked the Boul­der County Coroner’s Of­fice to re­lease the photo he took dur­ing that last climb when of­fi­cials pub­licly iden­ti­fied him on Wed­nes­day.

Kelly said Chris­tensen orig­i­nally was from Min­nesota, but he moved to Long­mont and lived there from fourth grade un­til high school.

While he wound up mov­ing back to Min­nesota, he still thought of him­self as a Coloradan.

“He was def­i­nitely a na­tive,” Kelly said. “I don’t know how to ex­plain it. He knew the moun­tains bet­ter than any­one. He loved those moun­tains.”

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