Micah Tice, Missing In Longs Peak Area

Today, July 5, remains believed to be those of Micah Tice were found by Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members. On Thursday, July 4, private searchers affiliated with the Tice family, reported to park staff that they found items believed to belong to Tice below treeline in the Boulder Brook drainage. The Boulder Brook drainage was one of the areas where initial search efforts were heavily focused. However, through the winter and spring, this area was covered in deep snow.

Due to these items being found yesterday, Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members focused search efforts in this area this morning, July 5, when they discovered his remains.

Rangers have completed an on scene investigation and recovery operations are taking place. His remains will be transferred to the Larimer County Coroner’s Office. Larimer County Coroner’s office will not release positive identification until completion of an autopsy.

Background:

On the afternoon of Monday, November 26, 2018, Rocky Mountain National Park staff were notified that US Air Force Prep School Academy Cadet Micah Tice was missing, and possibly within the park in the Longs Peak area. His vehicle was subsequently located at the Longs Peak trailhead.

The investigation determined that Micah Tice was likely attempting to climb Longs Peak on Saturday, November 24. On November 29, witnesses reported that they saw and talked with Micah on Saturday, November 24, between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m., just above treeline in blizzard conditions. The two visitors indicated the weather was terrible at the Longs Peak Trailhead and that visibility and weather conditions continued to worsen. Tice was reported to be wearing a black sweatshirt, black sweatpants, a black hat, black lightweight gloves, tennis shoes and a light blue backpack. The visitors discouraged Tice from continuing to the summit due to his clothing, footwear and weather conditions. Micah had apparently not communicated his plans to anyone.

· At sunrise, Tuesday, November 27, three days after he was last seen, active search efforts began in the Longs Peak area of Rocky Mountain National Park for Tice. A Colorado Air National Guard Blackhawk helicopter attempted to assist with aviation operations on Tuesday, but were curtailed due to 90+ mph winds.

· Longs Peak is the park’s highest peak at 14,259 feet in elevation. In late fall through early summer, Longs Peak is an extreme ascent requiring advanced winter mountaineering skills. Conditions on November 24 in the area were severe, including significant snow accumulation, extremely high winds, blizzard conditions, and bitter cold temperatures.

· Over an intensive search period, ground and aerial searchers covered an approximate 10 square mile search area. These efforts were focused on sections of the Longs Peak Trail, the East Longs Peak Trail, the Battle Mountain area, Granite Pass, Jim’s Grove, the Boulder Field, Mount Lady Washington, Chasm Lake, Peacock Pool, the Boulder Brook drainage, the Storm Pass Trail, and the Wind River drainage. On Sunday, December 2, the first day conditions were conducive to flying this area, search managers assigned aerial searchers from the Colorado Air National Guard to perform reconnaissance of the entire Keyhole Route to the summit of Longs Peak.

· Additional military coordination included cell phone forensic analysis. The cell phone data was requested early in the investigation, and received on Thursday, November 29. Cell phone data provided broad areas of potential transactions but was vague information given the limitations of the signal in that area. These transactions were not “pings” nor texts nor phone calls. This information indicated Tice’s cell phone was picking up a signal early Sunday morning, November 25. The large, broad area referenced in the analysis was part of where search efforts were conducted.

· Beginning Friday morning, December 7, through Sunday, December 9 search activities for Micah Tice were focused from the Granite Pass area to the northern lower slopes of Longs Peak, including the Wind River and Boulder Brook drainages. On Monday, December 10, due to conducive weather conditions at high elevations on Longs Peak, teams focused their efforts on the Keyhole Route to the summit of Longs Peak as well as the Chasm Lake area, Clark’s Arrow and the Loft. On Tuesday, December 11, searchers again focused efforts in the Wind River drainage.

· Searchers experienced chest deep snow, thick snow covered forests, and vast areas of dead and down trees, especially in drainages away from snow packed trails. At higher elevations, winds scoured the landscape leaving it bare or depositing deep drifted snow. Those conditions existed from the first day of search operations and can cover or erase clues. Depending on the search area and day, team members encountered harsh winter conditions including extreme winds, low visibility, bitter wind chills, below freezing temperatures, deep snow and high avalanche danger.

· The park has worked closely with the US Air Force Academy since the beginning of this incident, coordinating investigative and operational assistance, and incorporating a team from the Air Force Academy Mountaineering Club in initial search efforts. The Air Force Academy Colorado Parents’ Club coordinated efforts from numerous organizations and individuals to donate daily meals for searchers.

· Also assisting Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members has been Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue based in Boulder County, Colorado Air National Guard, Alpine Rescue Team, Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Grand County Search and Rescue, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, Summit County Rescue Group Dog Team, Front Range Rescue Dogs, and FLIR Systems Inc. who volunteered their services to conduct thermal imaging of the search area.

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