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

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.


So the NPS, and ultimately the taxpayers, have to flip the bill for rescuing this man who was hiking alone and admittedly unprepared for the winter weather conditions. No wonder the NPS has a $4-6 billion maintenance backlog (source: NPCA http://www.npca.org/what_we_do/visitor_experience/backlog/). The big backcountry parks have to spend a huge percentage of their ever-shrinking resources rescuing the Darwin Award candidates who think that they can overcome Mother Nature and her wrath.

I would say that I am sorry for not being more sympathetic to this man's plight, but I am not. These dramatic search and rescue operations cost the parks millions of dollars every year, and deprive the parks of the ability to allocate these funds to increase visitor services, build/ renovate facilities, and expand interpretive programs. This is a perfect example of a young man who arrogantly defied every rule of backcountry camping/hiking, and is now crying for park personnel to rescue him from a situation he knowingly put himself in. IF he is rescued, I believe that he should have to repay the costs of his rescue to RMNP. And if he doesn't make it, I hope others will take a valuable lesson from this man's arrogance and stupidity.

At least he has a sleeping bag. How about giving the 22 year old a break. I am 75 plus and remember all the stupid things I did at that age. It is a miracle that I survived.

How do you know he " arrogantly defied every rule of backcountry camping..."? Sounds like the man was just hiking-- had a tarp,whistle and a sleeping bag. From what I read the storm was unexpected. Accidents can happen to anyone--how about a little compassion??

I wholeheartedly agree with this well-written comment. It's a shameful waste of human and financial resources to have to attempt to find this man. Fine him and make him a 'poster child' to communicate the inherent risks of hiking to the visiting public.

People make mistakes. It sounds like he was somewhat prepared in case of an emergency. I agree that he should pay some of the cost of the search and rescue, if not all of it. But to say it's wasteful to search for a human who needs help (for whatever the reason may be) is "arrogant and stupid." Lighten up and have a sliver of compassion.

That area is not what I would call "backcountry." It is a well-travelled area and rated as pretty easy in most hiking guides. It sounds like he was caught by surprise. Although he made some mistakes, he hardly warrants the tirade provided in the above comment. He was smart enough to find shelter, have a sleeping bag, a tarp, and a whitle and he could have eaten the snow for hydration (seems logical to me.) He was also smart enough to recognize that he needed help instead of trying to get out when he was in over his head. Glad he had cell phone signal and seems to be OK.

Someone mentioned the storm being unexpected. The winter storm warning was released on Monday night/Tuesday morning and they were predicting the storm from at least Sunday, that I remember.
Weather does change fast in RMNP, however, it seems this man could have been a little more prepared and checked in with a ranger's station for a weather report before heading out.
Glad he made it out safely.

Kind of funny how the anonymous comment at 11:53 sounds like the same anoymous comment at 11:25 ?? LOL

Lets first be thankful this young man is safe and surely he has learned a big lesson as those of us have through our lives. I also hope he continues his love of the outdoors and maybe follow a path of helping others as he recieved. at his age Im sure his pocket book isnt made of $ but if he should be encouraged to work or volonteer to help others in the same area. A young man of his age has such a large potencial for he future.
Help save our people,planet and environment, HELP SOMEONE IN NEED!

Maybe we should help this young man and encourage him toward prepardness in the future instead of crushing his love of the outdoors. At 22 he has his whole life ahead of him and at his age Im sure hes not made of $ but should be encouraged to work towards helping others as he was rescued. He could work and volonteer in the same area helping others and contribute enormously to helping the environment and people , we surely need as much as we can get. Hope to see him on a USAR team someday.

To Anonymous in the first post:
Good lord, have some compassion. We are taliking about a human life. I for one consider emergency services something that I gladly pay my taxes for. I suggest that if you ever get in over your head that you not call for assistance. If you cannot get out on your broken leg then too bad, so sad. If you get hopelessly lost, which anyone can do regardless of skills or experience, prepare to meet your maker. I am sure as you layed there in pain as you slowly froze to death or slipped away from dehydration you would stick to your convictions. It is hard for me to believe that the anti-government crowd even includes SAR as an unnecessary government function. End of Rant.

Park Ranger command-control Divisions emphasize Search & Rescue
Operations at taxpayer expense so they, the Law Enforcement Division
may dominate all other park budgets thus justifying their existence and
demand more an ever-growing budget. Oh, let's not place any responsibility
on the Idiot with a cell phone and Little Common "Horse Sense" and let's
not bill he/she for the rescue since the general taxpayer will bear the burden.
So, all it may mean as budgets shrink in future years, is fewer educational
programs, seasonal educators, and less maintenance while the superintendent's
and Division Chiefs' critical travel budget grows so he/she enjoys the
"good travel tourism life" at the indebted taxpayer's "red-ink". Time to plan
for another NPS Superintendents' Vail Conference !

My goodness, Anonymous 11:25 and 4:10. I truly hope if my granddaughters are ever stranded, for whatever reason, it won't be up to either of you to save them. They'll die. After all, it might have cost a pittance of your tax contribution.

Given the fact this individual reportedly failed to get a backcountry camping permit, he was very fortunate he was able to make cell phone contact. Lacking that, it's unlikely anyone would have known he was in the area and stranded. If he had just taken the time to request a permit, he could have been advised about the weather forecast.

One topic hasn't gotten much attention in the comments thus far, and that's kudos to the SAR team for a quick and successful conclusion of this situation under difficult circumstances: bad weather, very rough terrain in the search area, and a subject who wasn't even in the location he reported to searchers.

Nice work folks!

As usual the SAR team responded as they always do, TOP NOTCH. Your the best. I can tell for those whom are worried over tax $ that many of these teams work as volunteers and love every minute of it in hopes that volunteering to help others will encourage others to do the same. I have and do work and volunteer as Paramedic, SWAT, tactical paramedic and scout leader for many years and the best that we hope for is people helping others regardless of $. Only wish I had more time to do more for our youth.

This story brought to my attention that there is a lot of snow already in the Colorado Rockies. Did you know that in Oregon it's dry as a bone. And, there are hundreds of jets hired by California, Nevada and Arizona water and power companies flying over OREGON CONSTANTLY. THEY ARE GEOENGINEERING, sending our storms to the Colorado River basin. How do they do this, you ask. They burn jet fuel mixed with aluminum oxide and then modulate the metal particles to change the course of the jet stream.
Im glad a hiker who got unsuspectingly caught in geoengineered weather escaped with his life. Sue the California water board for the rescue!

Rough crowd in this hall. [and I agree - kudos to the SAR team for job well done]

Park Ranger command-control Divisions emphasize Search & Rescue
Operations at taxpayer expense so they, the Law Enforcement Division
may dominate all other park budgets thus justifying their existence and
demand more an ever-growing budget. Oh, let's not place any responsibility
on the Idiot with a cell phone and Little Common "Horse Sense" and let's
not bill he/she for the rescue since the general taxpayer will bear the burden.
So, all it may mean as budgets shrink in future years, is fewer educational
programs, seasonal educators, and less maintenance while the superintendent's
and Division Chiefs' critical travel budget grows so he/she enjoys the
"good travel tourism life" at the indebted taxpayer's "red-ink". Time to plan
for another NPS Superintendents' Vail Conference !

I have been reading NPT for 3 or 4 years, and this is the most outlandish comment I have yet seen. I participated in dozens of SAR operations and I don't remember doing one of them so that I could dominate my co-workers in other decisions or to justify my division''s share of the budget. Most of these operations were hard work, often done under adverse weather conditions and at some or a lot of risk to the participants. And, I am not sure how that ties into increased travel budgets for superinntendents and division chiefs if the protection division--opps, excuse me, the ranger command and control division--is spending all the money on SAR operations. Maybe anon will enlghten us.


I'm glad they were able to pull him out of there, and I'm trying hard not to wish that whoever left the first comment someday makes a mistake and needs someone to help save their lives. I'm not going to do that, because I'm fairly certain they're not worth the effort.
As for SAR, the RMNP folks are as good as they get.
[The code for Rocky Mountain National Park is ROMO. Ed.]

People are not perfect. They make mistakes and get into trouble in the backcountry due to a variety of reasons, including inexperience, poor judgement, carelessness, injury, weather, or wild animals. This applies to everyone who goes into the backcountry regardless of the amount of experience they have. Even the most experienced hikers get into trouble.

For you to slam this guy so hard for costing us taxpayers money shows a complete lack of understanding of backcountry travel, not to mention a Libertarian style selfishness. It also shows a complete lack of understanding of why we as a society consent to provide the NPS with search and rescue capability.

Most of us know that we can get into trouble at any time and may need help. We want there to be capable, efficient, and publically funded search and rescue teams. Success stories like this make me proud of the people who do SAR, whether they are on the NPS payroll, or volunteers. It gives me some satisfaction to know that there are still some things that our society can do right, something that works for the benefit of all backcountry users, and that we all pay into in the form of taxes to make it work. I’m glad my tax money contributed to getting this guy home, that’s what I pay taxes for. For you to say that the NPS has a maintenance backlog due to spending money on SAR is complete garbage. Ask your Republican member of congress why they don’t believe the NPS should get the money it needs. This guy may have made some mistakes. He’s a young guy with maybe only a few trips under his belt. I remember some close calls I’ve had over the years, and can look back on some really dumb things I did in the backcountry because I largely didn’t know any better. After 25 years, I like to think I’m a little smarter. Luckily, I’ve never needed help, but, that may not always be true. Anyone, from a drunken redneck to the most experienced climber can break a bone in a fall, and need a medivac.

Someone once asked Daniel Boone if he had ever been lost. Boone is said to have thought for a moment and then replied, "No, but I sure was bewildered a few times."

To continue with Lee's post just our interest in getting out into the wilds where we CAN'T (or may not) have all the answers to every situation and are challenged to deal with things is surely part of the allure and the rewards. There are places that humble EVERYONE and that in itself is a pretty good payoff, well, if you survive:).

Bravo to all additional memos and god bless all whom serve. Safe traveling to all, MOVING ON.Back to the trail.

Hold on a minute to all those who said some variation of "mistakes" happen. I think the first comentor was exactly right re: "breaking every rule of backcountry/hiking..." This is not a case of someone who slipped on a trail and turned an ankle or got lost on a wrong trail. This indivisual headed into ROMO at the end of October armed with a whistle, a tarp, a sleeping bag and presumably a jacket...no water, food, fire making...., nothing else. At this time of year snow and extreme cold are what normally happens-had he prepared himself and studied the environment he was entering just by surfing the park's page he would have known that. Again, this person was unprepared for conditions that were highly likely to be met given the season and altitude and as a result it cost serious resources to find him. that is not what bothers me. It bugs me fiercely that National Park emergency responders, staff, and volunteers have to risk their lives everytime for a thoughtless guy like this. These issues appear to be cropping up more and more as inexperienced folks wander off into the backcountry with no experience or education. I hate to say it, but I bet this young man would have spent more time studying the maps to rides for Disney than he did preparing for a potentially life threatening situation in the backcountry. They should fine him and use the money to set up an educational film as part of the permitting process like Denali does for all those who attempt the backcountry.

Thanks, Kurt. I know NPS code is ROMO, but I'm happy to by non-NPS!

I am Andy Lund's father. Andy knew of the coming storm, but thought he would be back down before it came. We went through the worst time of our lives this past week, and are so thankful for the heroes who saved him. I am sorry that you don't think our son is worth the money spent on rescuing him. I would consider our tax money very well spent if it had to go to the saving of your life.

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--

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

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.