Search efforts ongoing for missing man in Rocky Mountain National Park

A search is ongoing for Chad Pallansch, who went missing while recreating inside Rocky Mountain National Park. On Sept. 27, he started hiking from the East Inlet Trailhead near Grand Lake, but did not return to his vehicle.
Rocky Mountain National Park/Courtesy Photo

Update (Oct. 2 at 5:51 p.m.): Search crews continued operations Oct. 2, but did not locate Pallansch. Fifty-one individuals, including 38 search team members in the field, were involved in the efforts. Two dog teams also assisted with the efforts. According to a release by Rocky Mountain National Park, the teams focused in areas around Black Lake, Stone Man Pass, Chiefs Head Peak, west ridge of Pagoda, Andrews Glacier, Upper Chaos Canyon and Tyndall Glacier. Search team members were able to run aerial reconnaissance via helicopter while weather was favorable, focusing on Mount Alice, Chiefs Head Peak, and surrounding ridgeline areas. Precipitation that was forecast prevented afternoon aerial flights. 

Rocky Mountain National Park rangers and search crews are continuing efforts to find Chad Pallansch, who went missing inside the park last week. Pallansch is 49 years old and from Fort Collins.

According to a news release from Rocky Mountain National Park, he was reported overdue Sept. 28. Park rangers confirmed his vehicle was still parked at the North Inlet Trailhead on the west side of the park. Pallansch was last heard from around noon on Sept. 27. 

The news release stated that he started from the East Inlet Trailhead near Grand Lake on Sept. 27. His reported itinerary was an expansive 28-mile route which included crossing the Continental Divide and traveling on established trails, as well as off trail travel through steep slopes. Potential travel areas include: Lake Verna, Mount Alice, Chiefs Head Peak, Black Lake, Mills Lake and Flattop Mountain.

Search crews during an early morning briefing Oct. 1 before they resume their search for Pallansch.
Rocky Mountain National Park/Courtesy Photo

Pallansch had not attempted this route previously, but he is an experienced trail runner. He has run numerous routes in the park, including Longs Peak more than 30 times, according to the release.    

 Pallansch is 5 feet and 7 inches tall and 155 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. The release described him as a fit runner with both trail running and marathon experience.

“He is likely wearing a black ultralight jacket, black running shorts or leggings and a grey fanny pack,” the release stated. “Pallansch had personal navigation with him, but the device was not designed for emergency assistance.”

Search efforts on the afternoon of Sept. 28 included air reconnaissance, as well as ground crews on the North Inlet and East Inlet trails and east of the divide near Mount Alice. Search efforts also included ground teams in the Black Lake and Upper Glacier Gorge area, Thunder Lake, as well as the North Inlet Trail to Solitude Lake. Search efforts continued on Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 1. 

Search efforts for Pallansch continued Sept. 30 from Mount Alice.
Rocky Mountain National Park/Courtesy Photo

On Oct. 1, there were 55 individuals involved, including 38 search team members in the field. Efforts that day were focused on the Boulder Grand Pass, Mount Alice, McHenry’s Peak, Arrowhead, Stoneman Pass, Chiefs Head Peak, Thatchtop, Powell Peak and Andrews Glacier areas. Teams also searched trail sections on the west side of the park that were potentially on his route. Winds at higher elevations hampered air operations. 

Search efforts have included air reconnaissance, a heat sensing fixed-wing flight, as well as ground crews. Park rangers are also continuing investigations.

Looking at a route above Lake Powell in search of Pallansch on Oct. 1.
Rocky Mountain National Park/Courtesy Photo

The release stated that several organizations are assisting the Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team. These include: Larimer County Search and Rescue, Grand County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, the State of Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control’s Multi-Mission Aircraft, Northern Colorado Interagency Helitack (led by the U.S. Forest Service) and a contracted helicopter with Trans Aero.

If you have information that could help investigators, if you may have seen Pallansch, or if you were in the areas listed above on Sept. 27, please contact The National Park Service. Call the National Park Service Investigative Services Bureau Tip Line at 888-653-0009, submit an online form at Go.NPS.Gov/SubmitATip, or email Tips can be anonymous.

The 49-year-old man was reported missing when he didn’t return from a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 28.
Rocky Mountain National Park/Courtesy Photo
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