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Colorado hiker missing nearly 2 weeks in Rocky Mountain National Park; large-scale search suspended


Large-scale search efforts for a missing Colorado hiker have been scaled back nearly two weeks after he disappeared during a 28-mile solo trek in Rocky Mountain National Park, officials said Tuesday.

Chad Pallansch, 49, of Fort Collins, Colorado, is still considered a missing person, according to the National Park Service (NPS), which said its investigation into the hiker’s disappearance will continue.

“Broad scale search efforts are being suspended but patrols will continue to occur in the search area when conditions warrant and further actions may be considered,” NPS said. “Reported clues will be investigated as appropriate.”

Pallansch was reported overdue on Sept. 28, a day after setting off from the East Inlet Trailhead near Grand Lake, officials said. Rangers then located his car still parked at the North Inlet Trailhead on the west side of the park.

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Chad Pallansch

Chad Pallansch, 49, is described as a “fit runner” with trail running experience, officials said. He was last heard from on Sept. 27 after setting off from the East Inlet Trailhead near Grand Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park. (U.S. National Park Service)

Pallansch’s last known communication came around noon on Sept. 27. At that time, a text was received indicating that he was almost to the summit of Mount Alice and roughly 7 miles from the Bear Lake area.

dog team searching

Dog teams searched for Pallansch in areas along the route he was believed to have undertaken. (National Park Service)

Search crews on the ground, dog teams and a drone team recently scoured the areas around Black Lake, Lake Powell, Stone Man Pass, Chiefs Head Peak, McHenry’s Peak, Mount Alice, and surrounding ridgeline areas. 

dog team searching

Officials said search efforts have yielded no clues to Pallansch’s location. (National Park Service)

Search efforts, however, have yet to provide further clues on Pallansch’s whereabouts, the agency said.

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The 49-year-old had undertaken an expansive 28-mile route that would take him across the Continental Divide, over established trails and off-trail through steep slopes of loose rock, parks officials said. He had personal navigation with him, though officials said the device was not designed for emergency assistance.

slope at Rocky Mountain National Park

Pallansch had undertaken an expansive 28-mile route that would take him across the Continental Divide, over established trails and off-trail through steep slopes of loose rock, parks officials said.  (National Park Service)

“Pallansch had not attempted this route previously but is an experienced trail runner who has run numerous routes in the park including Longs Peak more than 30 times,” NPS said, describing him as “a fit runner” who also has marathon experience.

slope at Rocky Mountain National Park

Pallansch was reported overdue on Sept. 28, a day after setting off from the East Inlet Trailhead near Grand Lake, officials said.  (National Park Service)

Pallansch’s travel route is believed to include Lake Verna, Mount Alice, Chiefs Head Peak, Black Lake, Mills Lake, and Flattop Mountain.

helicopter search team

A helicopter team searched for Pallansch by air. (National Park Service)

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Pallansch is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 155 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He is likely wearing a black ultralight jacket, black running shorts or leggings and a gray fanny pack. 



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