ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, CO – After extensive efforts to locate Chad Pallansch, a 49-year-old experienced trail runner, authorities have suspended broad scale search operations in Rocky Mountain National Park. Pallansch, a Fort Collins resident, was reported overdue on September 28. The last communication from him came via text on September 27, stating that he was nearing the summit of Mount Alice. According to the official press release from Rocky Mountain National Park, his vehicle was found parked at the North Inlet Trailhead on the west side of the park.
Over the weekend, the search intensified with ground searchers, dog teams, and a State of Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) drone team. A DFPC helicopter also aided in inserting ground teams and conducted aerial reconnaissance. Despite these efforts, which focused on multiple areas including Black Lake, Lake Powell, and Stone Man Pass, no further clues have been found. The search will continue in a limited capacity, focusing on patrols in the area when conditions warrant, and any new clues will be investigated.
Pallansch started his route from the East Inlet Trailhead near Grand Lake and had planned an expansive 28-mile route that would take him across the Continental Divide. Though he had never attempted this particular route before, Pallansch is no stranger to the park’s rugged terrain, having run routes including Longs Peak more than 30 times. He is described as a fit individual, approximately 5’7″ and 155 pounds, likely dressed in a black ultralight jacket and black running shorts or leggings.
Many organizations have been involved in the search, including Larimer County Search and Rescue, Grand County Search and Rescue, and the Colorado Search and Rescue Association, among others. The closure that was put in place to facilitate the search has now been lifted.
Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact the National Park Service Investigative Services Bureau Tip Line at 888-653-0009 or fill out an online form at go.NPS.gov/SubmitATip.
Safety Tips for Trail Runners and Hikers
Given the unfortunate incident involving Pallansch, readers are urged to exercise caution when heading into wilderness areas, especially when attempting extensive or unfamiliar routes.
Always let someone know your itinerary and when you expect to return.
Carry emergency supplies including water, high-energy snacks, and a basic first-aid kit.
Make sure your personal navigation devices are designed for emergency assistance or carry an emergency beacon.
Avoid going off-trail if you’re not experienced with the area’s geography and conditions.
Always check weather forecasts and be prepared for sudden changes in conditions.
Know your limits. It’s better to turn back than to take unnecessary risks.
Stay safe and remain vigilant when exploring the great outdoors. Learn more to be prepared with our comprehensive mountain safety guide. You can also support Colorado’s search and rescue volunteers by purchasing a COSAR Card.