Climber falls, dies near top of Windom Peak

A climber fell about 230 feet to his death Sunday afternoon near the top of Windom Peak, a remote area above Chicago Basin in the Weminuche Wilderness north of Durango.

The man was identified as Martin Pigeon, 45, of Acton Vale, Canada, a small town outside Montreal.

He was described as an experienced climber on week two of a three-week climbing trip in Colorado, said Dan Bender, spokesman for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.

His goal was to climb 20 peaks during three weeks, Bender said. It was unknown how close he came to reaching that goal.

Rescue workers removed the man’s body about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The accident occurred about 4 p.m. Sunday while Pigeon and his climbing partner were descending Windom Peak (14,082 feet in elevation), one of three fourteeners that make up the upper portion of Chicago Basin, Bender said.

The men climbed Sunlight Peak and Mount Eolus earlier in the day, Bender said.

Pigeon was last seen about 4 p.m. by his climbing partner. His partner was a good distance ahead of Pigeon, and Pigeon was near a narrow ledge at the time, Bender said. His partner continued to summit the mountain and lost sight of Pigeon, Bender said.

On his way down, he looked for Pigeon, but was unable to locate him. He returned to base camp assuming Pigeon had turned around, Bender said.

But his friend was not at base camp. So the climber went back up the mountain to look for him. He looked over the ledge where Pigeon was last seen and saw his body below, Bender said.

It was about 8 p.m., and there was hail, rain, lightning and wind in the area, Bender said.

The hiker found someone who had a satellite texting device and was able to relay information to authorities.

Rescue workers received the information Monday and put together a recovery plan for the body.

A helicopter flew into the basin Tuesday morning with two La Plata County Search and Rescue members. The helicopter lifted the man’s body and flew it to Rockwood.

An earlier version of this story erred by saying Pigeon was ascending Windom Peak. He was descending.

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