A Colorado man has died while mountain climbing in Argentina. 41-year-old Eric Nourse was killed along with a climbing partner on Mount Aconcagua, which has a summit of nearly 23,000 feet.
The Portland Oregonian is reporting that Nourse died while he and his twin brother Greg Nourse were trying to get help for a third hiker, David Reinhart, who fell behind with altitude sickness.
Reinhart also died on the climb, making Greg Nourse the only survivor from the three-member expedition.
When planning how to summit 22,841-foot Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, Greeley resident Eric Nourse , as usual, chose the riskiest route.
On Dec. 29, the decision had terrible consequences. He and long-time friend friend David Reinhart of Lake Oswego, Ore. died, likely of complications of high-altitude sickness. Only Eric's twin brother Greg Nourse of Portland, Ore. survived.
"He never wanted to die. He's just a large risk taker," said Greg, referring to his brother. Greg spoke Tuesday via Reinhart's satellite phone from Mendoza, Argentina, where Eric's body was taken for an autopsy.
Reinhart met the Nourse brothers at a fraternity at Oregon State University in the late 1980s. They shared a taste for extreme adventure and for the next 23 years they often traveled together to the Alps, Mount Danali or the Andes in South America.
Eric Nourse, 41, had a Greeley flooring business. Whenever he could he was in the wilderness: kayaking, rafting, scuba diving, skiing, snowboarding, flyfishing, mountain biking, hiking, hunting elk.
The twins and Reinhart would plan big trips for months. In 2004, the Nourse brothers rode motorcycles through Mexico, Guatamala and Belize for two months. They climbed Danali twice.
Eric Nourse was full of life, his wife, Candee Nourse said.
"He could climb a tree like a monkey. There was something that was not quite human about him," she said.
Candee Nourse said she never worried previously about her husband going into danger because he was never worried, but this time was different. It wasn't that the South American peak was a technically difficult climb.
"He said, 'It's the weather. It gets brutal and it takes lives.'"
The three friends reached the "high camp" tents at 19,200 in elevation on Mount Aconcagua by Dec. 27. They considered going on the Polish Traverse, but decided to take the more challenging route up the face of the Polish Glacier.
At 4 a.m. on Dec. 28, the three embarked for the summit with Eric Nourse leading the way under a full moon.
The glacier was almost all ice with little snow for traction and it was much steeper than they had anticipated. They had not carried enough ice screws and snow pickets along for the longer ice climbs.
"It was more taxing and time consuming," Greg Nourse said.
They didn't reach 22,000 feet in elevation until after dark. Reinhart was suffering from high altitude sickness and couldn't go any further.
Eric Nourse said he was going to summit the mountain in moonlight, find the less challenging trail down the mountain and get help.
Greg Nourse said his brother climbed another 600 feet and searched for the trail down. When he couldn't find the trail he climbed down the steep north face of the mountain.
"It was basically a sheer cliff," he said.
The decision slowed him down considerably. The next morning, 10 hours after his brother had left, Greg strapped his friend to the side of an ice wall and climbed the mountain to find the easier trail down.
He waited near the summit for 2 ½ hours before the first climber of the day reached the peak so he could ask how to get down the mountain. While there he called Reinhart's wife, Char, who set into motion an emergency response in Argentina. "It was a really emotional phone call. She knew we were in trouble," he said.
Six hours later Greg made it back down to the high camp. His brother Eric limped into camp 90 minutes later exhausted. Argentine EMTs advised Eric to climb down the mountain and not sleep. The oxygen content in his blood was dangerously low. Porters offered to carry their equipment down the mountain for them. But Greg Nourse said his brother felt that would have been admitting defeat.
"Eric wouldn't have any part of that. We carried our gear up the mountain and after a little catnap he would carry it back down. He was never concerned about dying," Greg Nourse said.
Minutes after Eric Nourse went to sleep in his tent, emergency workers tried to rouse him. His heart rate dropped. When it stopped, they tried to resuscitate him.
But he was dead.
It took another 2 ½ days before porters reached Reinhart's body on the glacier. Reinhart had some how climbed another 150 feet up the mountain before collapsing.
GREELEY, Colo. - A Greeley man has died while climbing Mount Aconcagua in Argentina.
Eric Nourse, 41, died last weekend while climbing the 22,841-foot peak in the Andes, his wife Kandee Nourse told 7NEWS.
A climbing partner, David Reinhart, 42, of Lake Oswego, Ore., also died during the expedition.
Eric's twin brother, Greg Nourse, of Portland, Ore., survived but is hospitalized with frostbite on his feet.
Kandee Nourse said she's proud of how her husband went out -- doing what he loved and trying to help his stricken buddy.
"He lived fast and he lived it the way he wanted to live it," Kandee Nourse told 7NEWS reported Tyler Lopez Tuesday. "I know there'd be no other way he'd want to go."
Eric Nourse had called his wife by satellite phone on Christmas Eve from 16,000 feet, and said the wind was blowing 60 miles per hour, but everyone was in good spirits and healthy.
Two days later, as the trio was 600 feet below the summit, Reinhart suffered altitude sickness, Kandee Nourse said.
She said Eric and Greg left to get help, and made it to a base camp at 19,000 feet.
"He's so amazing," Kandee Nourse said of her husband's effort to save his friend. "I know every spouse says this, but he’s so amazing.”
She said Eric had gone 36 hours without food or water. He died of cold and exhaustion on Saturday.
"Greg said he had a smile on his face," Kandee Nourse said.
"And (Greg) said, 'You know, don't measure his life by the number of years.Measure how much he packed into it.' And he did, he did a lot," the wife recounted.
Eric's widow said he was a very experience climber, and had twice climbed Denali in Alaska -- the highest mountain in North America. He was also an expert kayaker and fisherman, and recently took up bow hunting.
"He just lived for living," she said.
Kandee Nourse said she plans to have her husband cremated in Argentina, and then spread his ashes in some of his favorite adventure spots.