A young climber by the name of Matthew Potel was leading a group of college classmates on a hike through the Adirondacks last week when he slipped and fell to his death. Potel, who was the co-president of his university’s outdoors club, was assisting two other hikers past a waterfall when he lost his footing on slick rocks.
The seven-person group, all from Binghamton University in New York, were climbing up Trap Dike, a popular route on Mount Colden, when the accident occurred. That approach is a steep and challenging, non-technical, climb to the top of the 4715-foot peak that can present some challenges to inexperienced hikers. Potel reportedly helped one of his classmates negotiate a particularly tricky section, then turned to assist another when he lost his footing and fell 25-feet. The 22-year old, who was not wearing a helmet, died from an injury to his head.
Potel was an experienced outdoorsman who loved the Adirondack Mountains. In fact, he had recently become a member of the “46ers,” a term given to anyone who has climbed all 46 of the mountains in that range that are at least 4000 feet in height. He had also served as a camp counselor and was majoring in environmental studies.
This is a sad story that underscores the importance of safety in all of our outdoor endeavors. Matthew wasn’t climbing an especially tall or dangerous mountain, and yet he still lost his life while on the trail. According to his father however, this is exactly how the young man would have wanted to go – doing something he loved.
Our condolences to his friends and family.