SAGUACHE COUNTY, Colo. — A missing climber found deceased in the Sangre de Cristo mountains on Tuesday will be remembered for being able to "turn dust into gold," his partner said.
Luis Corkern, 41, had been climbing Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak, which are two 14,000-plus-foot peaks fairly close to each other east of Crestone, over the weekend when he went missing. According to reports, authorities learned Corkern had ascended Kit Carson via the north ridge route on Saturday and summited around 4 p.m. He had plans to descend using the Challenger Peak summit and then take the standard route back to Willow Lake.
Luis was expected to return home Sunday.
Search and rescue crews looked for him on Monday and Tuesday. The Saguache County Sheriff's Office said his body was spotted by a Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control helicopter on Tuesday. Officials said he apparently fell from a ridge down the Kirk Couloir between the two peaks. His body was recovered.
Luis's partner, Myndee Corkern, said he was her best friend and partner of more than 20 years, and a loving, dedicated father to their three young children.
She lives in Dallas with their three young children. As a family, they had plans to move to Colorado, she said.
"He was a creative soul with a passion for capturing beauty in the mundane with his photography," Myndee said. "He could turn dust into gold as evidenced by the reclaimed wood he turned into art that hangs on our walls. He was hilarious and had a sense of humor drier than the desert, and if you knew him, you loved him. He made ordinary moments fun and was one of the most hands-on dads I’ve ever known."
Luis expanded his horizons during the pandemic and "took stock of his life, sought out more joy," Myndee said. That manifested in a new passion for mountain climbing. Starting in 2020, he reached the summit of almost 30 fourteeners, or peaks above 14,000 feet in Colorado.
"(He) was known to be extra cautious on his hikes," Myndee said, adding that he never took unnecessary risks. "He worked in Colorado for several weeks the last three summers, getting his climbs in on the weekends and fully embracing the outdoor life. He will be greatly missed."
Myndee said their three children are remembering their father in different ways. She passed their notes along in a message that read:
- Dylan, 10: "He had an amazing personality and I wouldn't have picked anyone else to be my dad."
- Gavin, 12: "He treated us like friends and was open with us. He was calm and loving."
- Sky, 13: "There are so many amazing things I can't pick just one. He had the best sense of humor and was so kind."
A GoFundMe for the family is available here.