Free Climber Austin Howell dies in Linville Gorge

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. – Free soloist Austin Howell died Sunday after falling more than 80 feet from Shortoff Mountain in Burke County, officials said.

Burke County Emergency Services Director Mike Willis said rescue crews were able to reach the victim by rappelling down the mountain about 90 minutes after the call for aid was made. Other climbers were performing CPR on the victim.

Authorities said Howell was free climbing in one of the most challenging portions of the Linville Gorge.

The U.S. Forest Service is investigating the incident.

Blue Ridge Outdoors had the opportunity to talk with Austin about his art and philosophy in 2016. You can get to know him better by reading the article here.