On Friday, January 30, Mark Miller—a climbing guide from Ouray, Colorado—took a fatal fall while ice climbing in Eureka Canyon outside of Silverton, Colorado.
Miller was guiding two climbers on the four-pitch First Gully (WI 3) when he fell. According to Brandon Mathis of the Durango Herald, Miller had been soloing approximately seven feet left of the lead climber on the fourth pitch (at roughly 800 feet) when a large bulge of ice collapsed causing Miller to fall. Miller’s clients were able to find their way out of the canyon “with some complications, ” according to the report, and contact authorities.
Miller was a well known climbing guide based out of Ouray, and had worked in the area for 20 years. He was also an EMT for Ouray County, an instructor for Rigging for Rescue, and a member of Ouray Mountain Rescue.
In addition to guiding and working in the mountains, Miller was an ambitious climber. During the second week of May 2014, for example, Miller teamed up with another Ouray/Ridgeway local, Frank Robertson, and made successful ascents of the classic, 3,000-foot Shaken, Not Stirred (WI 5, M5) and Ham & Eggs (WI 4, M4) on the Moose’s Tooth in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge.
“They told us that conditions were out when we got to Talkeetna, ” Robertson had told me in a phone conversation after their ascent. “But for Mark ‘s mixed-climbing ability, they were good enough.”
Despite his own climbing ambitions, however, Miller was the consummate guide, always setting aside his own goals to teach others how to enjoy the mountains. And in the end, that’s what he died doing.
Miller is survived by his wife Collette. He was 50 years old.