Remains found in Rocky Mountain National Park believed to be hiker who went missing 38 years ago

National

Snow in RMNP Credit: Alpine Visitor Center August 20, 2021

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Skeletal remains found on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park in Aug. 2020 are believed to belong to a German hiker who went missing 38 years ago.

27-year-old Rudi Moder of west Germany set out on a hike on Feb. 13 in 1983, from the Zimmerman Lake Trailhead on Highway 17. The mountaineering trip was only supposed to last two to three days.

Moder was reported to be an experienced winter mountaineer. When Moder was overdue from his trip, his Fort Collins roommate reported him missing. By Feb. 20, rescue teams were in the field, conducting aerial and on-foot searches. Over a foot of snow had fallen in the Never Summer Mountains where Moder was believed to have crossed through, making search efforts difficult.

According to RMNP officials, searchers found a food cache belonging to Moder as well as a snow cave with more of his belongings inside. The four-day search did not yield Moder.

In Aug. 2020, a hiker happened upon skeletal remains in the Skeleton Gulch area, originally part of the search perimeters sanctioned for Moder. The remains were found with skis, poles, and boots, and remains of personal items believed to belong to Moder.

The Grand County Coroner’s office looked at dental records to try and officially identify the remains, but the results were inconclusive. U.S. officials have been in contact with the German government for assistance in identifying the remains and notifying Moder’s family.

The discovery of these remains could mark the end of a near 40-year-long cold case. Efforts to properly identify the remains are still ongoing.

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