Clues Point To Hiker Who Vanished In Glacier National Park in 2008

Clues possibly shuttled downslope by water and avalanches might hold the answer to what happened to a 27-year-old hiker who went missing in Glacier National Park three years ago.

The search for 27-year-old Yi-Jien Hwa, of Malaysia, was launched August 20, 2008, a day after his family reported him missing. The area that was the focus of the search, south and west of Logan Pass, is rich in lakes, cliff bands made slippery by rain and snow, glaciers, glacial melt ponds, crevasses, ice and snow bridges, forests, and shaded areas near ridges with fresh snow.

Searchers spent six days looking for the man before scaling back the search.

Now they're searching again.

On July 3 a hiker found bits of two clothing items that matched the description of items thought to belong to Mr. Hwa, according to a park release. The hiker also directed rangers to the steep cliffs off the Floral Park Route, Mr. Hwa’s intended route.

Rangers have returned to the site a couple of times for further investigation, with assistance from members of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department and Search and Rescue Team. More evidence has been found since those initial tatters, several of which closely match the items identified in the hiker's equipment list, according to Glacier officials.

The evidence also includes some bone fragments that are being analyzed for DNA identification by the Montana Department of Justice’s Crime Laboratory, they add. Rangers believe the evidence was transported down slope from the cliffs above by water and snow avalanches.

Deep snow and steep terrain are extending the recovery efforts that will continue as weather conditions allow or definitive proof is found.