Tucson rock climber Steven Johnson — found dead on a cliff Monday after suffering hundreds of bee stings — was remembered Wednesday as a spirited climber and valued friend.
“Steve was a well-liked, long-standing, integral part of the Tucson climbing community,” said Jason Mullins, owner of the Rocks and Ropes climbing gym. “We’re all saddened by the news. He'll be greatly missed.”
Johnson, 55, who was found suspended from anchors on a sheer cliff, died as a result of “mass envenomation” resulting from hundreds of bee stings, said Dr. Gregory Hess, chief medical examiner for Pima County.
“It was tragic and horrifying,” said Eric Rhicard, one of four climbers who recovered Johnson’s body from the cliff near Mount Hopkins south of Tucson.
Rhicard and his fellow climbers went to the area Monday after learning late in the afternoon that Johnson had planned to look into some climbs there on Sunday — and then didn’t show up for work Monday.
One of the climbers found Johnson suspended on the cliff. After conferring with Santa Cruz County sheriff’s authorities, Rhicard and the other climbers set out to reach their friend.
Read the rest of this story in Thursday's Star.