Drone Assists Colorado Peak Bagger, Prompts Internet Outrage

July 7, 2015
Photo: Scaling peak in SW ColoradoInstagram: @mattdallas
Randy Day pilots a drone at Peak 98-54 in southwestern Colorado.

An ugly, clay-colored spire that was one of Colorado's highest unclimbed peaks has finally been summited. Last month, David Goldstein and father-son team Randy and Kastan Day beat the challenging southwestern point known as Peak 98-54, so named for it's elevation. While the team is celebrating, it is also contending with a backlash for using an aerial drone to help rig ropes. 

Some of the online barrage has been merciless. "Pathetic," writes one climbing watcher. "Not cool," "lame" and "cheating," say a few others. 

Goldstein, a retired software engineer, spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about checking the daunting peak off his list of climbs and giving a new name to 98-54: Drone Home. Goldstein claims he has climbed nearly half of Colorado's roughly 4,400 known peaks, and 606 of the state's 638 peaks that are at least 13,000-feet high.


Kastan Day, a Massachusetts high school student, build and piloted the drone. This video shows how the peak was conquered.
Goldstein on the drone's role 
"I've been on the Internet for a long time, so I wasn't too surprised. I was surprised at the know-nothingness of the criticism. Those criticisms you read were the entire post. They didn't say why they were offended by this. The defenders took a lot more effort to justify why this was OK."
"All the drone did was carry parachute cord across the top, which we then used to haul ropes..."
Photo: David Goldstein(Michael de Yoanna / CPR News)
Goldstein on why climb 98-54
"I'd noticed that it was basically the one unclimbed peak in the whole area. The leading Colorado peak bagger had a swath of the entire state he'd climbed from Boulder County to the Utah state line except for this one peak. There's got to be something interesting about that."
Goldstein on renaming 98-54
"We wrote 'drone home' on the summit register, but it was in haste and I'm not sure whether that's the name of the route we climbed or the name of the peak."