Human remains found in the Rocky Mountains last year are now thought to be those of a young hiker who disappeared nearly 40 years ago during a ski trip, officials have said.
Experienced winter mountaineer Rudi Moder, 27, was reported missing by his roommate in February 1983 after he did not return from the trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, USA.
Rudi, a West German national, had been living in Fort Collins, Colorado, and started his excursion over Thunder Pass and into the park February 13, 1983.
Skeletal remains were found in August 2020 and are now believed to be his after park rangers conducted a thorough search and found his possessions.
A spokesman for the park said: “Officials have worked extensively with the German government for repatriation, family notification and dental record analysis.
“In the decades following Moder’s disappearance, search efforts continued periodically by Rocky Mountain National Park staff and Larimer County Search and Rescue Teams.
“The discovery and recovery of Rudi Moder’s remains closes out a nearly four decade long cold case at Rocky Mountain National Park.”
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A major manhunt was launched on February 20, 1983, but more than a foot of fresh snow prevented searchers from immediately finding tracks or other clues.
The only clues found during the four-day search were a food cache belonging to Rudi that was discovered at the mouth of a canyon in the northwest corner of the park and a nearby snow cave with his sleeping bag and other gear inside.
The search included teams on skis and snowshoes, a dog trained to find people in avalanche debris and a helicopter. Additional searches were conducted that spring and into the summer.
In mid-August of 2020, skeletal remains were discovered by a hiker in the Skeleton Gulch area, near avalanche debris.
Park officials said a full probe couldn’t be completed due to resources being focused on wildfires in the area. Snow then blanketed the area.
But this summer, park rangers returned to the area and a search found skis, poles and boots, along with remains of personal items believed to belong to Rudi.
Rocky Mountain National Park has been ranked the USA's eighth-most deadly park, with 49 deaths between 2010 and 2020. The Grand Canyon topped the list with 134 death, the New York Times reports.
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A spokesman for the park said that in its 106-year history, only four people are known to be missing after extensive searches.
They are a 22-year-old man who was hiking in the Flattop Mountain area in 1933; two men, 20 and 21, who were hiking on a trail when a significant storm struck in October 1949; and a 70-year-old man whose vehicle was found at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead in February 2019.
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