By Logan Smith

(CBS4) – A 35-year-old Boulder woman passed away following a climbing accident last week in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Janette Heung fell approximately 400 feet while descending Pingora Peak on Sept. 5.

A colleague of Heung stated online that a “melon-sized” rock struck and dislodged the woman’s climbing rope anchor.

Pingora Peak in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. (credit: Ron Olsen)

“Janette was rappeling the South Buttress rappels of Pingora after climbing the East face with me, her climbing partner,” Josh Digrugilliers of Pennsylvania wrote in a discussion last week. There were two other climbers in their group.

“Colin was pulling the rope from the first rappel when I heard him say ‘Rock.’ Digrugilliers continued. ” I did not see the rock strike the anchor but I heard the tensioned sling and webbing break. I saw Janette fall backward, no longer connected to anything.”

Her group established new anchors, rappelled down to Heung, and undertook first aid measures. They performed CPR for an hour and a half before a helicopter team arrived.

Authorities have not said when she was pronounced.

The Fremont County Coroner officially identified Heung on Monday.

Janette Heung while climbing Notchtop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park in August. (credit: Eva Krchova)

A Colorado Springs man, Keith Ganger, was in another group above Heung’s at the time of the accident. He recalled her energy prior to descent.

“She was so vibrant alive and happy to be standing on top of Pingora for a second time in a few days,” Ganger stated.

Janette Heung while climbing Notchtop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park in August. (credit: Eva Krchova)

Heung was an assistant director of community programs at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, a job she had started in April.

The director of the program, Bill Kuo, told CBS4 that Heung’s passing “leaves a hole here at UCAR. While she had only been with us for a short time, she was already an essential part of the team. We are heartbroken that she is gone.”

Aside from her UCAR employment, Heung supported mountain activity. She founded theOutdoorRx Collaborative in Denver, was former deputy director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry, and a writer for several outdoor organizations, including American Alpine Club.

A friend, Eva Krchova, has started a fundraiser in Heung’s name to benefit the latter, a non-profit.

(credit: Eva Krchova)

“Janette was a great rock climber, an excellent ice climber, an outdoor enthusiast, a hardworking professional, a genuine friend and an extraordinary person over all,” Krchova told CBS4. “I do believe the support of this organization can prevent future climbing accidents and help us and our friends to come back home from the outdoor adventures.”



Logan Smith