The National Park Service is suspending its search for an Air Force Academy cadet candidate who went missing in the Rocky Mountains Nov. 24.
Weather and time has made the search difficult for Micah Tice, a 20-year-old Air Force Academy preparatory school student from Las Vegas who went missing in the Battle Mountain Area of Rocky Mountain National Park.
The extreme, high mountain terrain where Tice went missing has been inundated by snowfall and high winds, making it difficult to find clues to the student’s whereabouts, the National Park Service said in a release.
“In the absence of additional clues, active search operations have been suspended,” park officials said. “Limited search activities may occur during winter months if conditions allow.”
Park rangers were first notified that the Air Force Academy was asking for assistance locating Tice on Nov. 26, two days after he was last seen. Tice’s 2003 Toyota Camry with Nevada plates was found at a lot on the Longs Peak trailhead, the park’s highest mountain.
The search party, which included the Air Force Academy Mountaineering Club and Colorado Air National Guard, began scouring the area on Nov. 27.
Tice’s parents, who live in Nevada, last spoke to him on the evening before he disappeared, according to the Air Force Academy Preparatory School’s official Facebook page. Tice told his parents he was going to do some schoolwork that evening and perhaps take a hike the following day.
His phone signal was last received Nov. 24.
Witnesses on the trail told authorities they last saw Tice at roughly 8 a.m. Visitors to the park said the weather was terrible at the trailhead and that visibility and weather conditions continued to worsen. Those who saw Tice, told authorities that they discouraged him from continuing to the summit due to his clothing, footwear and deteriorating weather.
Tice was reported to be wearing a black sweatshirt, black sweatpants, a black hat, black lightweight gloves, tennis shoes and a light blue backpack, according to the National Park Service.
Over the past week, ground and aerial searchers covered about 10 square miles in search of Tice.
On Sunday, the first day conditions were conducive to flying in the area, aerial searchers performed reconnaissance of the entire Keyhole Route to the summit of Longs Peak.
However, very few clues have been discovered during the search, during which team members have 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 Air Force Academy since the beginning of this incident, coordinating investigative and operational assistance, and incorporating cadets from the academy’s mountaineering club in search efforts.
The Air Force Academy Colorado Parents’ Club has coordinated efforts from numerous organizations and individuals to donate daily meals for searchers, park officials said in the press release.
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 Board, Summit County Rescue Group Dog Team, Front Range Rescue Dogs.
FLIR Systems Inc. also volunteered their services to conduct thermal imaging of the search area.
“Micah Tice is still a missing person and our investigation will continue in hopes of gaining further information as to his plans on the day of his disappearance,” Air Force Academy officials said on their Facebook page. “Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who may have had contact with Micah Tice or have information on his planned route. Please call (970) 586-1204."
Air Force authorities said Tice, a white male, is 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighs roughly 160 pounds with dark hair and brown eyes.