RIVERTON — The body of a man who died in a climbing accident in the Wind River Mountains has been recovered.
Zijah Kurtovic, 63, of Evanston, Ill., died at about 12:30 p.m. Aug. 10 of “massive blunt-force trauma from a fall from extreme height,” Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen said Friday.
He estimated that Kurtovic had fallen 500 to 700 feet from Pingora Peak in the Cirque of the Towers. The incident, which was reported at about 1:40 p.m. Aug. 10, also involved a 67-year-old Arizona man who fell about 45 feet while ascending the mountain, according to a press release from the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.
The press release said the older man suffered “extensive injuries” and was airlifted from the area to an Idaho hospital. Recovering the deceased climber proved difficult, officials said, with several attempts to reach the body “hampered by severe weather and high winds, making helicopter operations impossible.”
With helicopters grounded for weather, a five-person team of search-and-rescue volunteers, supported by a U.S. Forest Service pack team, began hiking to the base of Pingora Peak, planning to ascend the mountain the morning of Aug. 13 to recover Kurtovic’s body under the direction of the Fremont County Coroner’s office.
Stratmoen said the climbers ascended Pingora on Aug. 13, recovered the body and lowered it down the mountain, then transferred it to the horse team, which traveled to meet Stratmoen’s staff at Worthen Meadows at about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 14.
— Wyoming News Exchange