Ground search suspended for hiker missing on Crow Pass Trail

Update 12 p.m. Tuesday: Ground search efforts have been suspended for Gary Fisk, who was reported overdue last week from Crow Pass Trail, a spokesman for the Alaska State Troopers said by email.

A helicopter crew continued to search the area Tuesday and troopers said in an update Monday night that aerial searches would continue while weather and equipment availability allows.

Update 10 a.m. Monday: Search crews had not located Gary Fisk by Monday morning, said incident commander Dean Knapp with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group.

Searchers were standing by on Monday as officials evaluated the situation, he said.

Update 3 p.m. Sunday: The search for a 74-year-old hiker who was reported overdue from Crow Pass Trail resumed Sunday morning, an official from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group said.

A helicopter dropped search crews off at different areas of the trail Sunday and other volunteers searched the area by foot and with dogs, said incident commander Dean Knapp.

By Sunday afternoon, no signs of Gary Fisk had been found, Knapp said.

Two teams planned to camp overnight along the trail Sunday and continue searching Monday morning if Fisk was still missing, Knapp said.

Original story:

Rescuers are searching for a missing Eagle River man who left Tuesday morning to hike Crow Pass, a popular hiking trail in the Chugach mountains.

Gary Fisk, 74, started at the Girdwood end of the trail at about 8 a.m. on Tuesday, and was expected to complete his hike sometime Thursday afternoon, Dean Knapp, an incident commander with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, said Saturday.

Search operations began around 4 p.m. on Friday. Rescuers were able to send a ski team as far as Echo Bend, which is around four miles from the Eagle River Nature, the trail’s end.

The search continued Saturday with a State Troopers helicopter dispatched midmorning, along with a team of 12 that set out to comb the length of the trail throughout the day.

No clues had been found by late Saturday afternoon, but the search would continue Sunday if needed, said Matt Green, also an incident commander with the Alaska Mountain Group who was helping lead the search.

Rescuers also interviewed other groups that had been hiking the trail during the same time period, “and there are no recent sightings,” Knapp said.

The Alaska Mountain Rescue group is working with Alaska State Troopers and state park rangers to find the missing hiker, who they say was hiking alone, and described as “bearded, and 6 ft tall,” according to a social media post from the rescue group.

“He may be wearing a royal blue coat, black knitted hat, black rain pants, charcoal pants, and bright red shirt,” the post said.

A dispatch from the State Troopers described Fisk as “an experienced outdoorsman” who “was prepared for a 3-day hike but weather conditions deteriorated with heavy snow and trees down in the area.”

“Conditions are generally described as awful,” Knapp said. “We’ve got snow in places, and slush in other places, and that might certainly have slowed him down.”

Crow Pass is a popular, challenging trail that runs about 21 miles between Girdwood and Eagle River, follows a portion of the original Iditarod Trail, and is typically completed by hikers in two to three days.

The trail has an elevation gain of about 3,290 feet, and includes a river crossing.

“One good thing is (other hikers) reported that the river crossing was easy,” Knapp said.

The crossing is most treacherous midsummer when glaciers melt rapidly, he said.

Anyone with information is encouraged to reach out to the Alaska State Troopers at (907) 451-5100 or through their new app, AKTips.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.