The search for a 20-year-old Las Vegas hiker who went missing in Rocky Mountain National Park has been suspended.
Active search efforts for Micah Tice, a cadet candidate at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School, have been put on hold “in the absence of additional clues,” a park release said Tuesday. He was last seen on Nov. 24 in the Battle Mountain area of the Colorado national park.
Limited searches may take place over the winter if conditions allow, the release said.
Search-and-rescue teams began efforts on Nov. 27, but they had discovered few clues and battled tough weather conditions, including strong winds, below-freezing temperatures, low visibility, deep snow and high avalanche danger.
“Snowfall and high winds in this extreme high mountain terrain make finding clues to Tice’s whereabouts even more difficult,” the release said.
Weeklong efforts spanned a roughly 10-square-mile area of the park and included ground and aerial searches, the release said.
The search efforts included thermal imaging of the area where Tice was last seen near the trail to Longs Peak, the highest mountain in the park at more than 14,000 feet. His vehicle was found at the Longs Peak Trailhead on Nov. 26, and the park learned last week that hikers encountered Tice on the trail the morning of Nov. 24.
Those park visitors reported “terrible” weather and worsening visibility and conditions, the release said.
Park officials still consider Tice a missing person and are seeking information about his whereabouts and his plans on the day of his disappearance.
Janice Tice, Micah’s mother, declined an interview Tuesday night. Her friend, Cynthia Martinez of Las Vegas, spoke on the family’s behalf.
“We are all just devastated and heartbroken that this has been called off,” Martinez said.
Janice Tice has said through her Facebook profile and texts to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she believes her son was prepared for the hike and had traveled the trail in groups several times. Martinez said Tuesday that despite the search being called off, the family hasn’t lost hope.
“We all strongly believe that Micah is alive. We just believe it,” Martinez said.
The family is continuing efforts to bring him home. Martinez said the family spoke with U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is trying to enlist help from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Ultimately, Martinez said, the goal is to persuade President Donald Trump to provide military assistance in the search efforts.
“This is a military family,” Martinez said of the Tices. “We need our nation to come and save one of our own.”
The family is also arranging for assistance from a six-person search team from Chile that has experience with search missions in the Andes Mountains. Search efforts are now coming out-of-pocket, Martinez said, and the family is asking for financial assistance.
Those looking to donate can do so through a GoFundMe page or through PayPal, Martinez said. She said the Tice family appreciates the support they’ve received and those who’ve participated in search efforts so far.
“We need to get Micah off the mountain,” Martinez said.
Rangers are still hoping to hear from anyone else who has spoken with Tice or knows of his planned hiking route, the park said Tuesday. Anyone with information may call the park at 970-586-1204.