Wyoming has 2nd double climbing fatality in a week
Cheyenne, Wyo. — A climbing accident has killed two men in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, marking the second double climbing fatality in the state in a week.
The Fremont County coroner’s office identified the victims from Friday’s fall as Jonathan Peter MacDonald, 23, who lived both in Lander, Wyoming, and Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and Keith Murray Henderson, 57, of Cheyenne.
Fremont County Undersheriff Ryan D. Lee said Monday another climber saw the two men fall several hundred feet down the face of Pingora Peak, in the Cirque of the Towers area, on Friday afternoon.
It appears the two men were rappelling down the 11,884-foot peak in clear weather conditions when they fell, Lee said. No one else was climbing with them.
Lee said he understands both men were experienced climbers. Climbing experts with Fremont County Search and Rescue are inspecting their climbing gear.
“We’re looking at everything, whether it was technique, the way things were rigged up, or whether it was a failure in a piece of equipment,” Lee said. “These guys are professionals, or experts in that field, so they can take a look at everything and draw a very strong conclusion as to what probably occurred.”
Lee said the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office received a report of the accident at about 3 p.m. Friday. He said the other climber who reported the accident was about one-half mile away.
The bodies were removed by helicopter and taken to Lander on Friday evening, Lee said.
Mark Stratmoen, Fremont County coroner, said Monday the deaths of MacDonald and Henderson are still under investigation. “Everything is indicating accidental at this point,” he said.
The deaths in the Wind River Range come less than week after two women died in a simultaneous fall at Grand Teton National Park on Aug. 22.
Tyler Strandberg, 28, and Catherine Nix, 27, died after falling about 200 feet. They died while trying to climb 12,300-foot Teewinot Mountain, the sixth-tallest peak in the Teton Range, without ropes. A third member of the climbing party, 26-year-old Rebecca Anderson of Jackson, was rescued unhurt from a small ledge by helicopter.
Park officials have said it could take weeks to complete a report into the accident.
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