PINEDALE – A Colorado man fell to his death in the Steeple Peak area of the Wind River Range, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) announced Thursday.
The SCSO said a caller reported the fall at about 6:34 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 28, saying it was a significant fall and the climber had sustained massive trauma and was believed to be dead.
“The fall had occurred earlier in the day and the climbing partner had no means of communication. The climbing partner had to hike until she made contact with a group with a satellite phone to report the fall,” the SCSO said in a news release.
The sheriff’s office on Thursday identified the climber who was killed as Michael Sullivan, 54, of Durango, Colo.
The SCSO immediately activated Tip Top Search and Rescue when the call came in, but because it was late, a helicopter crew didn’t visit the area the next morning, as it was not equipped to operate at night.
Tip Top Search and Rescue and Sublette County Sheriff’s Office personnel searched the area of the fall by helicopter on Tuesday, Aug. 29, and found Sullivan’s body at the base of Steeple Peak.
“It was apparent that he had sustained massive trauma and was deceased. Due to high winds, the helicopter was unable to insert personnel into the area to recover the body,” the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office release said.
A Tip Top Search and Rescue helicopter crew recovered Sullivan’s body on Wednesday, Aug. 30, and transported it to Big Sandy Trailhead, where it was transferred to Sublette County Coroner Curt Covill.
During the investigation, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office learned that Sullivan had arrived at the Cirque of Towers area on the week of Aug. 22, where he met up with a climbing partner. They made two climbs at different locations during that week. On Monday, Aug. 28, Sullivan and his climbing partner climbed Steeple Peak. The two reached the summit and were descending back down the peak. Between the first and second rappelling stations, Sullivan was not roped in and lost his footing. He fell an estimated 400 to 800 feet, the sheriff’s office said.
There is no indication of foul play. The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office extended its deepest condolences to Michael Sullivan’s family.