Updated: Man Missing In Rocky Mountain National Park's Snowy Backcountry Found
Editor's note: This updates with Mr. Lund being transported to a hospital in Estes Park.
A young Missouri man who became disoriented in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park during an early season snowstorm was led out of the park Thursday by rangers and taken to an Estes Park, Colorado, medical center.
Rangers had reached Andrew Lund, 22, of Branson, Missouri, just after 11 a.m. MST Thursday.
"At 10:30 a.m. this morning verbal contact was made between a search team and Lund. Due to no contact with Lund in the the Chaos Canyon area yesterday, search efforts were also made in the Dream Lake and Emerald Lake area today," Kyle Patterson, the park's spokeswoman, reported. "Lund was above Emerald Lake in the Tyndall Glacier area, not above Lake Haiyaha as he initially reported to park rangers. A search team reached him at 11:06 a.m. They are assessing his condition and determining the best way to assist him from the challenging terrain."
About 90 minutes later additional gear to warm up the backpacker was dropped by helicopter onto the west shore of Emerald Lake. Rescuers then led Mr. Lund around the lake on foot, and they reached the Bear Lake Trailhead at 2:30 p.m. From there he was taken to the Estes Park Medical Center, Ms. Patterson said.
Winter conditions -- deep snow and wind-chill temperatures below zero -- had hampered efforts to find the man. Adding to the concern for Mr. Lund was the possibility that he was not properly prepared for dealing with snow and cold.
Mr. Lund called the park's dispatch office Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. asking for help. He told the dispatchers that he thought he "was somewhere above Lake Haiyaha (elevation 10,220 feet) seeking shelter under a large boulder," Ms. Patterson said earlier today before the backpacker was reached.
The young man had hitchhiked to the park and was dropped off at the Bear Lake Trailhead on Tuesday at approximately 2 p.m. Overnight temperatures on Tuesday were less than 25 degrees and more than a foot of snow fell in the area by Wednesday morning.
"He seems to be unprepared for the deep snow and winter conditions; however, he does have a sleeping bag, tarp and whistle," Ms. Patterson said in that first release. "He indicated he was wet, cold and had no water."
While rangers had made cellphone contact with Mr. Lund on Wednesday, after 3 p.m. they were no longer able to reach him. They tried to track the location of his cellphone, but it apparently did not have that feature.
An initial "hasty search" team reached the Lake Haiyaha area around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Lake Haiyaha is 2.1 miles from the popular Bear Lake Trailhead. Additional searchers reached the area at 3:15 p.m. They searched the upper “Chaos Canyon” area, west of Lake Haiyaha and attempted to establish contact using air horns and whistles.
Chaos Canyon is appropriately named for its very large boulder fields that make walking difficult. With more than 18 inches of new snow in this area, current conditions were challenging and hazardous, said Ms. Patterson. Additionally, temperatures Wednesday night into Thursday were forecasted to be 5 degrees with a wind chill of -5 degrees.