Bandelier identifies Illinois lady killed whereas climbing to Alcove Home

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March 24 – Bandelier National Monument officials said the death of a climber from Illinois on Wednesday in a known part of the park appears to be an accident and has prompted an investigation into the area in hopes of learning more about what’s happening is.

Bandelier spokeswoman Joanie Budzileni said in an email there was no evidence that the rockfall that hit Brenda Holzer as she climbed the second of four ladders leading to the historic Alcove House was caused by someone else was caused.

Holzer, 54, of Yorkville, Illinois, was struck by a falling rock and fell about 25 feet, according to a Bandelier news release released Wednesday night. While being lowered to the ground, Holzer became “pulseless” and could not be revived by rescue workers.

Budzileni wrote in her email that park officials “are investigating and investigating the entire area of ​​Alcove House,” which was closed after the accident.

Longtime Santa Fe climber Peter Olson said that in winter, melting snow in the cracks of rock formations can expand over time and loosen rocks. A snowstorm blanketed the area earlier this week.

There has been some national news in the past of falling rocks and boulders resulting in climber deaths, including at national parks such as California’s Yosemite National Park in 2017 and Washington’s Mount Rainier in 2019.

Craig Allen, a former Bandelier employee who began working there as a contractor and volunteer in 1981, said falling rocks were not uncommon on the site. But this was the first he had heard of falling rocks near Alcove House.

“Every year you see rockfalls like this somewhere in the canyon just by driving or hiking,” said Allen, who has been a staffer at the US Geological Survey Station in Bandelier since 1989.

“They’re common at the level of several canyon systems, but the chances of them occurring in one place are pretty slim,” he said.

While experienced climbers have faced rockfalls in some cases, such incidents are rare, Olson said.

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“When you talk about climbing, a lot of the time you’re climbing in areas that are established climbing areas,” he said. “The people who develop these routes and areas are trying to remove dangerous rocks that might fall.

“But places like Bandelier aren’t really a climbing area,” he added. “It’s a historic area with ladders and who knows what kind of mitigation they’ve done over it.”

Budzileni wrote that the Alcove House area has not seen an accident like Wednesday’s in recent history.

The Alcove House sits 140 feet above the floor of Frijoles Canyon. Once home to ancient Pueblo residents, the popular visitor site is now accessible via a series of stairs and ladders.

President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation in early 1916 erecting the memorial, which was named after Swiss-born anthropologist Adolph Bandelier. Located about 40 miles northwest of Santa Fe, the site, managed by the National Park Service, attracted over 270,000 visitors in 2021.

eAuthorities have released the name of the 54-year-old woman who was killed Wednesday while climbing a ladder to Alcove House, an ancient site at Bandelier National Monument.

The woman was Brenda Holzer of Yorkville, Illinois, the national monument said in a press release Thursday.

“After being struck by a falling rock, Holzer fell about 25 feet down the second of four ladders,” Bandelier officials said in the release.

Emergency responders from both the memorial and the Los Alamos Fire Department arrived at the scene, the release said. “While she was being lowered to the ground, she lost her pulse and was unable to be revived by rescuers,” the statement said. “Holzer was taken to Los Alamos Hospital.”

The accident happened early Wednesday afternoon.

Bandelier spokeswoman Joanie Budzilenicq wrote in an email Thursday that park officials are “assessing and investigating the entire Alcove House area.”

She added: “No such accident has happened at Alcove House in recent history.”

The site is 140 feet above the floor of Frijoles Canyon. Once home to ancient Pueblo residents, the popular visitor site is now accessible via a series of stairs and ladders.

The alcove house will remain closed, said Budzileni.

This is an evolving story. Check back for more details.