The gondola above Telluride connects the town with Mountain Village. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

TELLURIDE — Family and friends are mourning the death of a Telluride man who apparently fell while hiking alone in a rugged area in southwest Colorado.

The Telluride Daily Planet reports 29-year-old Patrick Eells told his girlfriend on Sunday he planned to hike and run the Sneffels Highline, and he was considering summiting Mt. Emma. He was reported missing late that night when he didn’t return home.

Eells’ body was found Monday in the Mill Creek Basin area below Gilpin Peak.

Friends say the avid outdoorsman and experienced mountaineer had a passion for community service that was evident in his work with local youth through the Telluride Academy and the Pinhead Institute, an outdoor education school and a science academy, respectively.

Pinhead executive director Sarah Holbrooke told the newspaper Eells came to the institute two summers ago, was great with the children and “wanted to make a difference in the best way.” When the pandemic forced Pinhead to significantly reduce its offerings last summer, Eells focused on making and distributing personal protective equipment throughout the region, including on the Navajo and Southern Ute reservations.

Holbrooke says Pinhead has created a Patrick Eells Engineering Scholarship that will be awarded to a Telluride High School senior who plans to major in the field.

The Associated Press