The Crestone Eagle, September 2008:

Climber dies in 1700 ft. fall near Crestone Needles
by Mary Lowers

Robert Koudelka, 44, of Dallas TX fell to his death descending from the Crestone Needles area the afternoon of Saturday August 9. It appears he fell nearly 1,700 feet according to a Saguache County Sheriff’s Office release. Saguache County Search & Rescue and Custer County Search & Rescue in cooperation with the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office began a search Saturday August 9 which culminated in the recovery of the deceased climber.

Search & Rescue teams were called out late in the afternoon of August 9, when Koudelka’s climbing companion reported him missing. The men had ascended the peaks from the Custer County side of the Sangre de Cristo range. According to Mike Sullivan, lead member of the Saguache County Search and Rescue who found Koudelka, “He apparently made a seriously wrong turn on the way down. It’s easy to get turned around at the spot he evidently fell.” The weather at the time of the accident was rainy, cloudy and foggy.

Search & Rescue volunteers found Koudelka’s battered body Sunday on the Saguache County side of the divide. The body was brought down to Cottonwood Lake where a Blackhawk helicopter could land to transport the body to El Paso County for an autopsy. His wife and three sons survive Koudelka who was married for 18 years. This is the second climbing death this year in Saguache County.

Mike Sullivan would like to thank the Saguache County Search & Rescue team for their excellent work. Team members participating in this search included: Talmath Lakai, Cheryl Waschenko, Jack Siddal, Sarah Koehn Frey, Eric Frey and Deputy Nick Tolsma of the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office. At the close of their August 11 press release, “The Saguache County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind persons climbing and hiking in the mountains this time of year that weather conditions change rapidly and can include low clouds, heavy rain, hail, and lightning. Persons in the mountains should expect these conditions and be prepared for them.”

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