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Search continues for Las Vegas hiker missing at Colorado park

Search efforts for a 20-year-old hiker from Las Vegas lost in the Rocky Mountain National Park continued Friday, almost a week after he was last seen.

Officials at the Colorado national park were notified by the Air Force Academy on Monday that Micah Tice, a cadet candidate at the academy preparatory school, did not return to the school after the Thanksgiving break. Park rangers heard from hikers on Thursday who hiked and spoke with Tice for about 20 minutes on Nov. 24.

Park officials found the 20-year-old’s car at the Longs Peak Trailhead on Monday, the park said. The hikers said Thursday that they last saw Tice on the morning of Nov. 24 near the Battle Mountain area along the Longs Peak Trail as “visibility and weather conditions continued to deteriorate,” according to a Thursday news release.

The hikers said Tice reported he started from the Longs Peak Trailhead at 6:30 that morning.

Search and rescue teams have now spanned about 10 square miles while looking for Tice from Tuesday to Friday. The search Friday was focused below the Granite Pass area and the Boulder Brook drainage along the trail to Longs Peak, the park said.

Longs Peak is the highest mountain in the park at more than 14,000 feet, according to the park’s website. It is known as a difficult mountaineering route with many accidents.

Air searches by a Colorado National Guard helicopter crew has been impossible due to the weather, except for a brief period Tuesday, the park said. Wind gusts over Longs Peak prevented air searching Wednesday and Thursday, and the helicopter could not launch from Buckley Air Force Base on Friday due to poor weather.

Searchers were unable to venture higher than 12,000 on Wednesday and Thursday due to high winds, the park has said. Searchers have experienced avalanche danger and chest-deep snow during the search.

Along with the park’s search and rescue team, the Rocky Mountain Rescue, the Air Force Academy Mountaineering Club, the Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol, Colorado’s Larimer County Search and Rescue, and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center all helped with the search Friday, the park said.

Weather on Saturday as Tice hiked included blizzard conditions with extremely high winds and snow accumulation, the park said.

Tice’s mother, Janice Tice said through her Facebook profile and text messages to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday that her son “has all the tools necessary to survive.” She said her son was prepared for the hike and has traveled the trail in groups several times.

“He will survive and we will find him,” she said Wednesday.

Janice Tice has continued to post video updates on her Facebook profile, asking Friday afternoon for more skilled volunteers to help find her son.

“I believe with all your encouraging words he’s still alive,” she said in the video. “He is a survivor; that’s who he is.”

Park rangers asked anyone who has been in the Longs Peak area since Nov. 24, or who may have had contact with Tice regarding his planned route, to call the Rocky Mountain National Park at 970-586-1204.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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