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MailTribune.com
  • Search for missing showshoer suspended

    Man went missing 10 days ago, after renting showshoes at Crater Lake National Park
  • Searchers are curtailing their efforts to find a snowshoer who has been missing inside Crater Lake National Park for 10 days, a park official said.
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  • Searchers are curtailing their efforts to find a snowshoer who has been missing inside Crater Lake National Park for 10 days, a park official said.
    The man's last known location was in the area of a collapsed snow cornice near the crater rim, said park spokeswoman Marsha McCabe.
    The identity of the missing man is not being released because of a request for privacy by family members, but he is not a resident of Oregon, McCabe said.
    "Searchers found a set of tracks leading to where the cornice was and not coming back ... we have evidence that leads us to believe that he was in that location," she said. "We're constantly worried about people getting out on the cornices."
    McCabe said no one is sure when the cornice collapsed, but park officials are nearly certain the lone tracks belong to the missing hiker, who rented snowshoes from the park and set off into the winter landscape to take photos on the afternoon of April 28.
    Warm, sunny weather that day followed several days of substantial snowfall at the park and likely contributed to the type of unstable snow conditions that lead to cornices collapsing, McCabe said.
    She said park officials have reached out to everyone who was known to have been snowshoeing in the park from April 28 to 30, when the man was reported missing by family members.
    "(Searchers) can pretty much account for all the other snowshoe activity that happened on those two days," McCabe said.
    Someone hiking on the same day the man went missing found a personal item belonging to him in the area of the collapsed cornice, McCabe said, but extensive air and ground search efforts have proved fruitless.
    "We haven't stopped looking, we are going up and checking on a regular basis with spotting scopes and binoculars," McCabe said. "We don't know for sure that he is dead; we don't have a body."
    McCabe said the man is believed to have been hiking between Rim Village and Garfield Peak, but his tracks veered off the typical route and ventured closer to the crater rim.
    "It's difficult for someone to tell when they are on a cornice. You might think you're just walking up a hill," McCabe said.
    Snow cornices are overhanging edges formed by wind blowing snow over rims or other sharp terrain features. They are often unstable and can give way without warning.
    McCabe said park officials mark cornices in the area around the visitor's center at Rim Village as a warning, but it would be impossible to mark every cornice around the rim.
    Once there is enough snow melt, searchers will be able to access the lake shore and search by boat in the area below where the cornice collapsed, but that might not happen until June, she said.
    "The slope itself is very steep and unstable at this time of year. Somebody would have to rappel down there, and it's too dangerous to do that," she said. "You can't put all these other people at risk when you don't even know whether there is anything there."
    Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.
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