SUBLETTE COUNTY, WYO – The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the death of a 54-year-old climber who fell Monday while climbing in the Wind River Range.
The body of Michael Sullivan, of Durango, Colo., was recovered yesterday and turned over to the Sublette County coroner Curt Covill. Sullivan died of massive trauma sustained from a fall of an estimated 400-800 feet.
Piecing the story together, Sublette County Sheriff’s gave the following account:
On Monday, August 28, at approximately 6:34pm, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a climber that had fallen in the Steeple Peak area of the Wind River Mountain Range. The information that was received indicated that it was a significant fall and the climber had sustained massive trauma and was believed to be deceased. 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.
Tip Top Search and Rescue was immediately activated. Due to the late hour, it was decided that the helicopter would be sent out to the area the next morning, as it is not equipped to operate during night time hours.
On Tuesday, August 29, Tip Top Search and Rescue and Sublette County Sheriff’s Office personnel responded to the area of the fall via helicopter. Sullivan’s body was located 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.
On Wednesday, August 30, Tip Top Search and Rescue Helicopter was sent back to the Steeple Peak area where Sullivan’s body was successfully recovered. The body was transported back to Big Sandy Trail Head where it was transferred to Sublette County Coroner Curt Covill.
During the investigation, it was found that Sullivan had arrived at the Cirque of Towers area on the week of August 22, where he met up with a climbing partner. They made two climbs at different locations during that week. On Monday, August 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 station Sullivan was not roped in and lost his footing. Sullivan fell between 400 and 800 feet.