Search
Close this search box.
Longs Peak Lost Hiker

UPDATE: Body of Missing Hiker Lucas Macaj Recovered in Rocky Mountain National Park

UPDATE: 5/16/2024 at 10:00 PM MT

Body of Lost Hiker Recovered at Base of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

ESTES PARK, COLORADO — The search for Lucas Macaj, the 23-year-old hiker from Colorado Springs, has ended in tragedy. On Thursday, May 16, Rocky Mountain National Park rangers recovered his body on Mills Glacier, near the base of Lamb’s Slide. Initial investigations suggest that Macaj suffered a significant fall.

Rescue teams, facing challenging conditions throughout the week, conducted an on-scene investigation before completing the recovery operation with the aid of a helicopter. Macaj’s body was flown to a landing zone within the park and subsequently transferred to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office.

Macaj was reported overdue late Sunday night after attempting to summit Longs Peak via the Keyhole Route. He was last heard from around 1 p.m. on May 12, when he texted a friend to confirm reaching the summit. Significant storms hit the high elevations of the park later that afternoon, complicating his descent.

Since Monday, extensive search efforts have included air reconnaissance, ground teams, and specialized dog teams. These teams scoured the Longs Peak Trail, the Keyhole Route, areas above Black Lake, Sandbeach Lake, the Hunter’s Creek Drainage, and near Chasm Lake up to the Loft.

Multiple agencies and organizations supported the Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team. Flight for Life Air Ambulance, the State of Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC), and the Colorado Army National Guard were instrumental in air reconnaissance operations. Additionally, the Colorado Search and Rescue Association (CSAR), Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States, and various county SAR dog teams contributed significantly to the search and recovery efforts.

The Boulder County Coroner’s Office will determine the official cause of death.





UPDATE: 5/15/2024 at 9:10 PM MT

Day 3 of Search Ends with No Clues and No Sighting of Lost Hiker in RMNP 

ESTES PARK, COLORADO – Three days into the search for Lucas Macaj on Longs Peak, NPS official say they have not yet found the young man but are continuing to look. Search efforts included a comprehensive review of aerial reconnaissance photos taken on May 13, looking for any potential clues.

Ground teams made significant efforts, with one team skiing into the Hunter’s Creek drainage to the base of Keplinger’s Coulier. A dog team covered the Longs Peak Trail to Battle Mountain Junction, and another team hiked to the park’s Chasm Shelter near Chasm Lake to glass the Loft and other areas between Longs Peak and Mount Meeker. This team will overnight in the shelter and ski the Clark’s Arrow Route to the top of Keplinger’s Coulier early tomorrow.

The Colorado Army National Guard conducted additional aerial reconnaissance in Keplinger’s Coulier, the Loft, and the Keyhole Route, although low clouds at approximately 12,700 feet hampered visibility.

The search for Lucas Macaj continues as rescuers navigate challenging conditions in the vast and rugged terrain of Rocky Mountain National Park.

For any information that could assist in locating Lucas Macaj, please contact the National Park Service through the following:

Phone: 888-653-0009

Online: www.nps.gov/ISB

Email: nps_isb@nps.gov





UPDATE: 5/14/2024 at 8:30 PM MT

Adverse Weather Conditions Hinder Search for Missing Hiker in Rocky Mountain National Park

ESTES PARK, COLORADO – The search for Lucas Macaj, the 23-year-old hiker from Colorado Springs who went missing on Longs Peak, faced severe setbacks today due to worsening weather conditions. According to an update from the National Park Service, strong winds, whiteout conditions, and extremely low visibility have significantly hampered rescue efforts.

Search teams today were unable to access critical areas such as the Loft and the Keyhole Route, which are key segments of the route Macaj is believed to have taken. Instead, rescue members were forced to hike and snowshoe to higher vantage points above Black Lake, from where they could survey the area below The Trough and the terrain beneath The Ledges.

Despite these challenges, the search operations continue unabated, with teams adapting to the demanding conditions on the mountain. The National Park Service remains committed to locating Macaj and urges anyone with information to come forward.

For any information that could assist in locating Lucas Macaj, please contact the National Park Service through the following:

Phone: 888-653-0009

Online: www.nps.gov/ISB

Email: nps_isb@nps.gov





ORIGINAL ARTICLE: 5/13/2024 8:10 PM MT

Urgent Search Underway for Missing Hiker on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

ESTES PARK, COLORADO — Rocky Mountain National Park officials have initiated an intensive search for 23-year-old Lucas Macaj of Colorado Springs, who has been reported overdue after a hiking trip to Longs Peak. Park rangers confirmed early this morning that Macaj’s vehicle was still parked at the Longs Peak Trailhead, where he began his ascent yesterday via the Keyhole Route.

Macaj was last known to have reached the summit of Longs Peak around 1 p.m. on Sunday, according to a text sent to a friend. Shortly after his communication, significant storms swept through the area, raising concerns about his descent.





Described as 5’9″ with brown hair and green eyes, weighing 155 pounds, Macaj was likely dressed in a dark top, tan or brown pants, khaki-colored boots, and a black backpack. He may also have been wearing a beanie and dark gloves.

Today’s search operations have included both air and ground teams, focusing on the Longs Peak Trail up to the Ledges on the Keyhole Route, as well as the Boulder Brook Trail. Specialized air reconnaissance efforts have targeted critical areas along the route such as The Ledges, The Trough, The Narrows, The Homestretch, and the saddle between Longs Peak and Mount Meeker. These efforts have been supported by Flight for Life Air Ambulance and a State of Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control aircraft equipped with infrared and color sensors.

Longs Peak is among the most deadly 14ers in Colorado, with more than 50 fatalities recorded by those trying to climb to the rugged summit. As a class 3 climb, the Keyhole route includes significant scrambling and exposure where a fall would be fatal. May is a particularly dangerous time of year on the mountain, with conditions changing quickly and the snow still in transition.

Those attempting to climb Longs Peak in such a season should be prepared with the right gear, skills, and experience. 

Rocky Mountain National Park rangers are urging anyone who was in these areas on May 12 or has information about Macaj’s whereabouts to come forward. Tips can be provided anonymously via several channels, ensuring privacy while potentially aiding in the rescue efforts.

For any information that could assist in locating Lucas Macaj, please contact the National Park Service through the following:

 

Support Colorado SAR volunteers by purchasing a COSAR card. Learn more or buy one today.

Safety Tips for Spring 14ers:

Spring is a difficult season to climb 14ers due to variable weather conditions, avalanche risk, and significant snow along most routes and trails. If you decide to try to climb a 14er in April or May, follow these best practices to stay safe.

  1. Bring a Partner: Two heads are better than one and ensures someone is there to provide first aid or go for help if an accident occurs.
  2. Bring the Ten Essentials: These are the ten categories of gear you need to actively respond to emergencies on the mountain.
  3. Carry Traction: Depending on which peak you climb, bringing microspikes or crampons along is a good idea in case you run into snowy or icy sections.
  4. Know Your Limits: Turn around when things don’t feel right or you are beyond your risk tolerance level. You can always return to climb another day.


This is a developing story. Updates will be posted as they become available.





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.





Enjoy this Article? Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Join 4,000+ other subscribers and receive mountain news updates, route guides, gear reviews, and other articles in our twice-monthly email newsletter.





Leave a Reply





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.

Join 5K Subscribers!

Get the latest mountain news, hear about training opportunities and gear discounts, receive new resources, and learn to advocate for public lands as a Next Summit Newsletter subscriber.