US authorities think they have recovered the remains of a 27-year-old German man who went missing in the Rocky Mountain National Park almost four decades ago.
Rudi Moder, from what was then West Germany, disappeared after setting off on a two-to-three day ski tour in February 1983. He was reported missing six days later.
Human remains discovered
Skeletal remains found last summer are now believed to be Moder's, park officials said Thursday.
A hiker discovered human remains near avalanche debris in August 2020, but massive wildfires in the area prevented a thorough investigation from being carried out. Snow then blanketed the area above 11,000 feet (3,353 meters).
Park rangers returned to the area this summer and found skis, poles, boots and other personal items that are thought to have belonged to Moder.
Identification proved difficult
The Grand County coroner's office tried to confirm the identity of the remains through dental records, but the results were inconclusive.
However, US officials say they consider the case closed and are working with the German government to repatriate the remains.
Moder started his excursion over Thunder Pass and into the park on February 13, 1983.
After he was reported missing six days later, searchers began looking for Moder, but more than a foot (30 centimeters) of fresh snow prevented them from finding many clues.
Only food and sleeping bag found
A food cache belonging to Moder was discovered at the mouth of a canyon in the northwest corner of the park, while his sleeping bag, equipment and provisions were found inside a snow cave.
The search included teams on skis and snowshoes, a dog trained to find people in avalanche debris and a helicopter. Additional searches were conducted over the next few months.