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Two people with helmets sit inside a plane, looking through the window at the mountains below.
Air crews search Rocky Mountain National Park for Chad Pallansch, who has been missing since Sept. 27. (Photo provided by Rocky Mountain National Park)

A man runs on a dirt path through a field.
Chad Pallansch competing in a race. He is described as an experienced runner. (Photo provided by Rocky Mountain National Park)

Search teams Tuesday continued to look for a missing Fort Collins trail runner who set out on a 28-mile route in Rocky Mountain National Park six days ago.

Chad Pallansch, 49, was last heard from around noon Sept. 27 and reported overdue the next day. His vehicle was still parked at the North Inlet trailhead on the west side of the park near the town of Grand Lake. Search officials have said Pallansch was new to this route but he is an experienced runner who has traversed numerous trails in the park, including the 14,259-foot Longs Peak more than 30 times.

Searchers are focusing on the Boulder Grand Pass, Mount Alice, McHenry’s Peak, Arrowhead, Stoneman Pass, Chiefs Head Peak, Thatchtop, Powell Peak and Andrews Glacier areas. The investigation has not yet yielded any evidence. Snow, ice and strong winds at higher elevations are hampering ground and air operations, according to the Rocky Mountain National Park update on Tuesday.

A map of the search area for Chad Pallansch in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The search area for Chad Pallansch spans from Trail Ridge Road to as far as Longs Peak. (Photo provided by Rocky Mountain National Park)

His reported itinerary was more than the length of a marathon and included crossing the Continental Divide and traveling on and off established trails. Park rangers identified several potential travel areas across the park, spanning from the East Inlet trailhead where Pallansch started, to trail sections on the west side that may have been on his route. 

Tuesday’s search efforts include ground crews from the Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team, other local rescue groups and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as dog teams and aircraft from the State of Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control and Trans Aero.


Pallansch is described as a fit runner with trail running and marathon experience. He had personal navigation but no access to emergency assistance.

He is described as 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He is likely wearing a black ultralight jacket, black running shorts or leggings and a gray fanny pack.

So far this year, four people have died in Rocky Mountain National Park. Pallansch is the second missing person in the park this year, after Kevin Sypher, an El Paso County Deputy, was reported missing May 1. The search for him was suspended May 5.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Clare Zhang is The Sun's Medill School of Journalism fellow for fall 2023. She has covered campus news, local politics, arts and sports for the Daily Northwestern. She has also interned at the Better Government Association, a nonprofit news...