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BILLINGS - A man fell to his death on Tuesday afternoon while climbing the Rimrocks above Zimmerman Trail, Billings police said.

Officers were investigating, but the fall did not appear to be suspicious or criminal. The climber's name was being withheld until his family could be notified.

A construction crew installing a gas line for Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. watched Tuesday afternoon as the man was climbing.

"He'd climb a little bit and stop," said Troy Bangert of Bridger, who works for State-Line Construction.

Worker Jeff Wilson said the climber reached a point where he could not go up or down, then he slipped and fell.

"He didn't have rope or anything with him, just free-handing it," Wilson said.

The workers could hear his scream, Bangert said.

Wilson ran toward the fallen climber while Bangert called 911.

The recovery effort was dangerous.

"It was extremely steep with very loose soil and rocks; treacherous footing," said Billings Fire Battalion Chief Tim Bergstrom.

Bergstrom said he had not determined how far the man fell.

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