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Climber Falls to His Death in Wyoming’s Wind River Range

Tracie Perkins, Townsquare Media
Tracie Perkins, Townsquare Media

A Colorado man who had been climbing in the Wind River Mountain Range fell 400-800 feet and died Monday.

The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office says 54-year-old Michael Sullivan of Durango, Colo., fell in the Steeple Peak area. His body was recovered on Wednesday.

Undersheriff Lane Gehlhausen says in a press release the fall was first reported shortly after 6:30 p.m. Monday. Sullivan’s climbing partner was with him when Sullivan fell, but the climbing partner had no means of communication and had to hike until she found a group with a satellite phone.

Upon receiving the call, Tip Top Search and Rescue was immediately activated. Due to the late hour, however, authorities decided to wait until the next morning to send a helicopter, as it was not equipped to operate in darkness.

On Tuesday, Tip Top Search and Rescue members along with Sublette County Sheriff’s Office personnel responded by helicopter to the area of the fall. They found Sullivan’s body at the base of Steeple Peak.

“It was apparent that he had sustained massive trauma and was deceased,” Gehlhausen says in the statement. Due to high winds, the helicopter was unable to insert anyone into the area to recover the body.

The helicopter was sent back to Steeple Peak on Wednesday, where Sullivan’s body was successfully recovered. The body was taken back to Big Sandy Trailhead and transferred to Sublette County Coroner Curt Covill.

The investigation found that Sullivan had arrived to the Cirque of towers area last week, and met up with his climbing partner. The pair made two climbs at different locations last week.

On Monday, Sullivan and his partner climbed Steeple Peak. They reached the summit and were headed back down the peak.

Between the first and second rappelling station, Sullivan was not roped in and lost his footing. He fell some 400-800 feet, the sheriff’s office says.

There is no indication of foul play. The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, in their statement, extends their deepest condolences to Sullivan’s family.

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