Authorities Wednesday located the body of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall's brother, Randy, who was reported missing on a solo backpack trip to the Wind River Range in Wyoming.
The body of the 61-year-old Carbondale resident was found at 10,700 feet, his poles still in his hand, his sister, Dodie Udall of Boulder, said.
Randy appeared to have died from a medical condition, she said. An autopsy has been scheduled.
"Randy left this Earth doing what he loved most: hiking in his most favorite mountain range in the world," the Udall family said in a statement. "The entire Udall family is touched beyond words by the tremendous outpouring of support from people around the country."
Randy was the second of six Udall siblings born to Morris "Mo" Udall, who served three decades in Congress, and Denver native Patricia Emery. Mark, the eldest, was born a year before Randy.
The family exchanged e-mails, calls and texts after learning Randy's body had been located.
"We're talking about how sad we are and how Randy is very much in our hearts right now," said Dodie, who is a year younger than Randy. "It's a big tragedy. I'm devastated."
Randy Udall had hiked the Wind River Range in Wyoming for more than 30 years, often going up once a month to fish and climb. His climbing exploits, along with many others, were chronicled in the book "Climb: Tales of Man Versus Boulder, Crag, Wall and Peak." He always left his route details with family, and early indications are that he stuck to the plan on this hike as well.
A long-time advocate for renewable energy, Udall helped found the nonprofit Community Office for Resource Energy Efficiency, which promotes the use of renewable energy in western Colorado. He also was the co-founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas and was one of the oil experts interviewed by the National Petroleum Council when they researched their 2007 report called the "Hard Truths about Energy."
"Randy had a brilliant mind and was an inspiration to those of us in the environmental community," said Matt Garrington, a longtime energy advocate. "He could take on the most complex, arcane issue on energy and deliver a commanding speech with humor, simplicity and urgency. Colorado has lost a true visionary, and he will be missed."
JP Strait, a CORE energy programs specialist, said Udall was an inspiring man with tremendous passion for the environment.
"He made me want to achieve more," Strait said.
Strait was among those who attended a silent prayer vigil for Udall on Wednesday night at Carbondale Community School, planned before news broke of the grim discovery.
"We were all hand-in-hand," he said. "There were a lot of emotions."
Authorities had been searching for Randy since his wife, Leslie Emerson, daughter of climbing legend Dick Emerson, called Wyoming authorities last Friday. She said she expected to hear from him late Wednesday or Thursday, but there had been no word.
Tip Top Search and Rescue of Pinedale, Wyo., coordinated the search with resources that included ground teams and aerial sweeps with two helicopters. A helicopter spotted the body.
Randy and his wife have three children in their 20s: Ren, Tarn and Torrey. Ren and Randy's brother, Brad, had gone to Wyoming after he was reported missing, and they notified family members Wednesday, Dodie said.
An article this week in Rock & Ice, about climbers, talked in detail about Randy's and the senator's expertise in mountain climbing and technical ascents. Both at one time were Outward Bound counselors.
The two also shared a passion for the environment; their uncle Stewart served as secretary of the Department of the Interior under President Kennedy.
Randy Udall's home in Carbondale was retrofitted with solar panels that he often said would keep 300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over 20 years.
Mona Newton, executive director of CORE, has known Randy Udall for 18 years. She noted that Udall was involved deeply with a methane capture project at a Colorado coal mine and turned that energy into electricity. Last year, Aspen Skiing became the first in the nation to convert waste methane into energy on a large scale.
"He was an environmentalist in the best sense of the word," she said. "He was really grounded in his connection to the natural world. He was unafraid to challenge us in what we were doing."