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Missing Trail Runner in RMNP

Urgent Search for Missing Trail Runner Enters Fourth Day at Rocky Mountain National Park

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, CO — Search and rescue operations continue today for Chad Pallansch, 49, of Fort Collins, Colorado, who has been reported overdue since September 28. Today’s efforts have 55 individuals involved, including 38 search team members focusing on various high-probability areas within the park.

Pallansch was last heard from on September 27, and his vehicle was later confirmed to be at the North Inlet Trailhead on the west side of the park. He had initiated his journey from the East Inlet Trailhead near Grand Lake. His planned 28-mile route was set to cross the Continental Divide and involved both on-trail and off-trail travel through challenging terrains, including steep talus slopes. Initial search efforts on September 28-30 have been unsuccessful.

Currently, operations are concentrated in and around Boulder Grand Pass, Mount Alice, McHenry’s Peak, Arrowhead, Stoneman Pass, Chiefs Head Peak, Thatchtop, Powell Peak, and Andrews Glacier. Search teams are also investigating trail sections on the west side of the park that Pallansch may have used. Winds at higher elevations are making air operations difficult.

Lost Trail Runner in RMNP

Pallansch is an experienced trail runner with considerable park experience, including over 30 runs up Longs Peak. He is 5’7″, weighs 155 pounds, and has brown hair and blue eyes. He was likely wearing a black ultralight jacket, black running shorts or leggings, and a grey fanny pack. Pallansch carried personal navigation equipment, though it was not designed for emergency assistance.

Anyone with information that could help investigators or those who may have seen Chad Pallansch in the areas under investigation on September 27 are urged to come forward. You can reach out anonymously via the National Park Service Investigative Services Bureau Tip Line at 888-653-0009, through an online form at, or by emailing

Search efforts to date have included air reconnaissance, heat-sensing fixed-wing flights, and ground crews. Assisting Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team are members from Larimer County Search and Rescue (LCSAR), Grand County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group (RMR), Colorado Search and Rescue Association (CSAR), the State of Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control’s Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA), Northern Colorado Interagency Helitack (US Forest Service), and a contracted helicopter with Trans Aero.

Lessons Learned and Safety Tips

  1. Always Share Your Itinerary: Before you head out, inform a trusted person of your plans.
  2. Be Prepared: Carry essentials including maps, compass, first-aid kit, food, and water.
  3. Know Your Limits: Stick to routes that match your level of experience and current physical condition.
  4. Weather Awareness: Always check weather conditions and be prepared for sudden changes, especially at higher elevations.
  5. Bring a Buddy: When possible, consider bringing a partner along for remote, long-distance backcountry trips. Alternatively, pack a satellite communicator like SPOT or Garmin.

Support Colorado Search and Rescue

As the search for Chad Pallansch continues, let us all be reminded of the importance of search and rescue teams. Please consider purchasing a COSAR (Colorado Search and Rescue) Card to financially support these crucial efforts.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

Learn more about how we protect public lands and prevent SAR calls through education & advocacy.

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