Tragedy On Longer's Peak: Walter Kiener's Own Story

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Noted for her prominence in a number of Colorado’s climbing associations, Agnes Vaille was the first woman to successfully scale the east face of Longs Peak, which ultimately cost her her life. In James Pickering’s section of Western Voices: 125 Years of Colorado Writing, titled “Tragedy on Longs Peak: Walter Kiener’s Own Story,” the tragedy of Agnes Vaille is recounted by her climbing companion Walter Kiener, who had imparted the story to Charles Hewes. Kiener’s tale reminisces the harrowing nature of Vaille’s death on Longs Peak and the struggle to retrieve her frozen body, which resulted in the death of Herbert Sortland, the caretaker at the Longs Peak Inn. However traumatic this story, Hewes had chosen not to include it in his autobiographical journal that was published six years after her death. Detailed in Pickering’s report is the recovery of Kiener’s story, the nature of Vaille’s death, and who was responsible for Vaille and Sortland’s deaths, as well as the controversies surrounding each issue.…show more content…
Placed there by Charles Hewes for safekeeping, the transcript recalled Vaille’s dramatic death but had been excluded from the final publication of Hewes’ autobiographical journal. James Pickering speculated that the part had been removed due to the event’s delicacy, explaining that “Hewes’s decision not to include Kiener’s story in the draft of his journal intended for posterity had to do with his sensitivity to the controversy that had arisen following Agnes Vaille’s death about where responsibility lay — responsibility not only for Agnes’s death but for the death of the unfortunate Sortland as well.” This seems to be the most legitimate of explanations, however, the piece may have also been excluded due to Kiener’s sensitivity to Vaille’s

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