Syracuse, N.Y. — An Upstate New York man found dead in Rocky Mountain Park on Monday was a 2019 graduate of SUNY Environmental College of Science and Forestry and was remembered as “curious” with “an adventurous, risk-taking spirit,” according to Joseph L. Rufo, the college’s CFO.
Steven Grunwald, 24, of Greenville, was trying to climb an 11-peak route that spanned nearly 20 miles in Colorado when he died, park officials said Tuesday. Grunwald, who graduated from also graduated from Ranger School in 2016 had been out of contact with people since Aug. 28, according to Rufo.
“He aspired to leave the world better than he found it by harnessing the collective power of the diversity of life he saw on this planet,” Rufo said in a statement Tuesday.
When Grunwald attended SUNY ESF, he walked around campus with a contagious smile, a carefree attitude and a climbing helmet clipped to his backpack, according to Rufo.
In 2019, Grunwald gave a TEDx talk at Syracuse University in which he advocated for people breaking free of their daily routines and outlined his vision for a revitalized planet. In the talk, Grunwald said he hiked 2,200 miles, from Canada to Mexico.
A search and rescue team discovered Grunwald’s body below McHenrys and Powell Peaks on Monday, park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said in a statement.
According to ABC’s affiliate in Denver, search efforts were hampered by conditions on Friday with winter-like conditions above 10,000 feet with up to 8-10 inches of drifting snow and 50 mph wind gusts. Park authorities said they weren’t sure if he was prepared for the weather that brought snow to the park last week.
“In the TEDx talk, Steven also said that people often don’t know the value of something until it’s gone,” Rufo said. “That may be true, but everyone who knew Steven was touched by the very real, meaningful value he brought to this world.”
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