by Saguache County Sheriff Mike Norris
On Friday, July 19, at approximately 8:41 p.m., the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received a call reporting an overdue climber. The caller stated that Michael Cormier, age 56, from Aurora, Colorado, had called stating that he was going to camp at Willow Lake above Crestone, Colorado, on Thursday night July 18, and then on Friday July 19 he would climb Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak. Cormier had said that he would either come out on Friday evening or Saturday morning. The caller stated that he was supposed to call when he was off the mountain and back at his base camp, but he never called.
On Saturday, Search & Rescue was activated and a hasty team was sent up the mountain. After an all-day search and conversations with other climbers it was determined it was determined that Cormier was descending via the climbing route and was last seen at the Northeast end of Kit Carson. The hasty team was unable to locate Cormier and a helicopter search was scheduled for Sunday July 21.
The helicopter search on Sunday was not successful in locating Mr. Cormier, and another helicopter search was scheduled for Monday.
On Monday morning, July 22, at approximately 8:40 am, Search and Rescue members aboard the helicopter located Cormier. It appeared that Mr. Cormier had fallen approximately 200 to 300 feet while descending the mountain. Search & Rescue made it to Cormier and reported that he died from the fall. The weather could have been a contributing factor in this incident. Mr. Cormier’s body was recovered and turned over to Saguache County Coroner Tom Perrin.
Mr. Cormier was an experienced climber and had climbed many 14ers.