Remains found in Rocky believed to be man who disappeared 38 years ago

Ground search operations for the missing Rudi Moder, 27, of West Germany, in 1983 were unsuccessful. Officials believe remains found in August 2020 are Moder.
Rocky Mountain National Park / Courtesy photo

Skeletal remains found in Rocky Mountain National Park are believed to be from a German man who went missing almost four decades ago.

In August 2020, a hiker discovered the skeletal remains in Skeleton Gulch near avalanche debris, according to park officials. Park rangers began an investigation that would be delayed by the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires.

This summer rangers returned to the area to continue investigating with the help of the FBI Evidence Response Team, and they found skis, poles, boots and personal items.

The evidence found and location of the remains connect them to 27-year-old Rudi Moder, 27, of West Germany who disappeared in Rocky 38 years ago.

On Feb. 13, 1983, Moder departed at the Zimmerman Lake Trailhead for a multiday ski mountaineering trip over Thunder Pass and into Rocky Mountain National Park.

One week later, he was reported missing by his roommate in Fort Collins, setting off a four day search. The only evidence found during that time was a food cache, a sleeping bag and other gear near Box Canyon.

Search efforts at the time were hampered by snow and focused on the Box Canyon and Skeleton Gulch areas, as well as Mount Richthofen.

In the years following, periodic teams of Rocky park staff and the Larimer County Search and Rescue were unsuccessful.

The Grand County Coroner’s Office tried to confirm the identity of the remains using dental records but the results were inconclusive.

Park officials worked with the German government for repatriation, family notification and dental record analysis.

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