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Updated: Man Missing In Rocky Mountain National Park's Snowy Backcountry Found

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Deep snow in the "Chaos Canyon" area of Rocky Mountain National Park complicated a search for a missing Missouri man. NPS photos.

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.

Comments


Rick B. -- a great response.  One that I'm sure spoke for many of us.

Education of people heading into wilderness is something the NPS keeps trying to achieve.  Sometimes there is success and sometimes it's hopeless.  Experience is the best teacher, however, and I'll bet that young Mr. Lund will be eager to pass what he has learned on to others.  Now he will be able to speak with a voice of authority and hopefully people he meets will learn from him.


As one that appreciates "transformational moments," I am sure Andy has had one and will be better for it.  As for some that have posted, I can only hope that they are blessed in the same way:).  Every year the great majority of those seeking challenging experiences are rewarded and become better people every time they try.  There are some that do not survive.  As for me I'm always aware of those that might be headed for trouble and have been blessed by the opportunity to change a path that many times could end up tragically.


We so appreciate Rick B.'s comment above, and those of all the positive and caring people here.  And our daughter, Julia, was also greatly helped by Rick's comment, and wrote hers before reading his.  Andy was released from the hospital today, is flying home tomorrow, and we'll be picking him up at the airport.  What a joy that will be, to hug our son and brother, whom we thought we'd never see again!


And to those of you who think before you speak, thank you. :)


How dare you say my brother isn't worth it. The money that was spent to save a person's life doesn't even start to compare to the millions of dollars that is spent each day to murder millions of babies everywhere. My brother is my best friend. He has one of the most beautiful souls and he is worth every cent that was spent to save his life. You wouldn't be saying these awful things if you knew this man. You people make me sick. It scares me how evil the world can be; how evil you can be. But I will continue to pray for you, even though you don't do the same for my family. It sure seems like you need it.


Thanks, Mr. Lund. Glad your boy turned out OK.

It is the nature of rescuers, on occasion, to mumble amongst themselves after the fact about "boy, that one didn't have to happen" or "sheesh - once more, eh?" They've earned the right and they do it privately, not in front of victim or family. Unfortunately, in this instant gratification anonymous online world, a lot of others who have not earned the right to grumble do so, and almost always under the name "anonymous" and from their armchairs and keyboards. 

In all the years I was a medic - much of it as a volunteer - I grumbled time to time about a victim's poor planning or decisions, but I never hesitated to go the next time. It's a comfort to me now that I'm retired to see many more younger folks coming along behind, doing the same committment, whether paid or volunteer. They are the ones to listen to, not the armchair critics.


Well there you go--- a father grateful for someone saving his sons life-- that's good enough for me. God bless those with the guts and compassion to save a life. We all do foolish things when we are young--


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