Washington Pastor Dies After Falling 300 Feet During Solo Climb: He Had 'Extensive' Trekking 'Experience'

"We are grateful for his smile, his sense of humor, his curiosity, his love of the outdoors, his faithfulness, and so much more," Northwest Washington Synod, ELCA said

Pastor Jeremy Fuerst
Photo: Northwest Washington Synod, ELCA/Facebook

A pastor tragically fell to his death while climbing a mountain in Colorado.

The harrowing incident unfolded on Saturday when emergency dispatch with Custer County Search and Rescue received a call that a man — identified as Washington-based pastor Jeremy Fuerst — was overdue in returning from a solo climb from Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle, Custer County Search and Rescue revealed in a news release.

Team members with Custer County Search and the Division of Fire Protection and Control – Canon City Helitack responded to the scene, conducting a search of the area via helicopter. That's when they spotted Fuerst, "roughly 300 feet below the traverse between Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle."

The responders gathered that the pastor had "fallen and sustained fatal injuries."

However, due to the dangers of the area's "steep, technical terrain," emergency responders were not immediately able to recover Fuerst's body. Officials determined that it was best to resume the search and rescue mission the following day. On Sunday, Fuerst was airlifted out to the Saguache County coroner. He was 44.

According to Custer County Search and Rescue, Fuerst had been "well-prepared" for his climb, "carried a Garmin inReach" and "had extensive climbing experience."

Northwest Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America confirmed Fuerst's death and identity in a Facebook post on Sunday. "It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Pastor Jeremy Fuerst has died while on a hiking trip in Colorado."

"We are grateful for his smile, his sense of humor, his curiosity, his love of the outdoors, his faithfulness, and so much more," Bishop Shelley Bryan Wee wrote.

Fuerst is survived by his spouse, Pastor Shannyn Fuerst, his parents, his brothers and his extended family, according to the Facebook post. He was the pastor at Central Lutheran in Everett.

His biography on the Central Lutheran Church website states that Fuerst was first ordained a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2011 before serving as Associate Pastor at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska and later joined Central Lutheran Church in 2015.

Fuerst was known for his love of the outdoors, as mentioned in his bio, which noted that the pastor enjoyed hiking, biking and climbing Mt. Rainer in his spare time.

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