In memoriam: NOLS director killed by falling rock

Peter Absolon, 47, the Rocky Mountain director of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyo., was killed Aug. 11 by a falling rock as he climbed a cliff in the Wind River Mountains.
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Peter Absolon, 47, the Rocky Mountain director of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyo., was killed Aug. 11 by a falling rock as he climbed a cliff in the Wind River Mountains.

Fremont County officials are investigating whether the stone that killed him was thrown by someone. Absolon was killed as he and a climbing partner were developing a new route up the cliff face of Leg Lake Cirque south of Lander.

According to a Star-Tribune article, Absolon's friend, Phil Powers, president of the American Alpine Club, alleges that a rock was thrown or kicked off the top of the cirque which struck and killed Absolon as he and Steve Hirlihy, a fellow NOLS instructor, were resting 800 feet up the rock face.

Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan confirmed to the Star-Tribune that Absolon had been fully equipped with all necessary climbing and safety gear, including a helmet, harness and rope. “A rock from above hit him in the head, and death was immediate,” McAuslan said in the article.

McAuslan added that both his office and the sheriff's office were investigating Absolon's death and emphasized that it was an active investigation, so there would be no further releases of information. He declined to comment on whether the rock that killed Absolon had been put into motion by a person, but did say the 911 caller who reported the accident was not the focus of the investigation.

Absolon is survived by his wife, Molly, and daughter, Avery.

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