Mountain-climbing couple with Camas ties killed in slide

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Two former Camas residents, Duane and Linda Buhrmester, were killed last week in a mud- and rock slide while climbing Crestone Needle, a 14,000-foot mountain in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Colorado.

It’s believed the two were retreating from a severe thunderstorm when they fell about 500 feet with the sliding rocks and mud on July 27, according to the Associated Press and several other news stories. A search and rescue team found them under rocks and mud Sunday, one day after a family member reported they hadn’t returned from their camping trip.

Duane Buhrmester, 57, was a longtime psychology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. Linda Buhrmester, 56, ran a in-home child-care company. They lived in Plano in the Dallas area.

Family members said the couple had been climbing mountains for about 30 years.

“Every year they sent me a Christmas card of a mountain they climbed that year,” said Jean Wollam, a Camas resident and Linda Buhrmester’s sister. “Every year they would go somewhere and climb a mountain. That was their vacation.”

Duane Buhrmester graduated from Camas High School in 1971, and Linda Buhrmester in 1972.

They had dated since the 7th or 8th grade and were “soul mates,” said Larry Buhrmester, Duane Buhrmester’s brother.

Family members said Duane Buhrmester played football in high school and Linda Buhrmester was a cheerleader.

The two were married in Camas in 1977. Their two adult sons, Ryan and Michael, live in Texas, said Larry Buhrmester and his wife, Rosie, who live in Washougal.

Family members said Crestone Needle is popular among rock climbers.

They said the couple had started up the mountain early that day, planning to reach the summit. As they ascended, they saw that a severe thunderstorm was approaching with dark clouds and lightning.

The couple decided to go back down and had rappelled down a steep area to a less-steep area where they could hike down to their camp. They had unhooked their ropes when the rock slide came down on them not far from their camp, family members said.

John Branton: john.branton@columbian.com or 360-735-4513.