Rural Alaska

Couple missing for four days in Northwest Alaska

A man and a woman have been missing for four days in Northwest Alaska. Searchers on Saturday were looking for the couple who were last seen leaving Kotzebue, 26 miles north of the Arctic Circle, on a snowmachine.

Clifford Griest, 32, and Shallain Adams, 23, left on a black Polaris IQ snowmachine headed to Selawik, possibly by way of Noorvik, about 2 a.m. Wednesday, according to Alaska State Troopers. The couple never arrived and were reported missing that afternoon, troopers said.

Adams and Griest remained somewhere on the tundra, lake ice or rolling hills Saturday despite days of searching by roughly 70 volunteers on snowmachines and troopers and military personnel in aircraft, troopers spokeswomen Beth Ipsen and Megan Peters said.

"The weather's been horrible," Peters said.

About a foot of snow fell during the week, troopers said. Though it was clearing Saturday, the temperature hovered around 12 degrees with 25 mph wind, Ipsen said.

Localized storms had earlier prevented search teams and planes from looking for Adams and Griest in some of the more likely areas, Peters said. On Thursday, the weather cleared near the north shore of Selawik Lake and the Baldwin Peninsula, which connects Kotzebue to the mainland. Crews searched there heavily Friday without finding the pair, Peters said.

The searchers were taking a close look Saturday at a shortcut to Selawik that travels across several lakes in the area, Peters said. The triangular search area stretches from Kotzebue nearly 70 miles southeast to Selawik Lake, about 50 miles from there to Noorvik, and another 60 miles or so back to Kotzebue, Ipsen said.

"This area they're looking in is just enormous," Ipsen said.

A wildlife trooper in a Piper PA-18 Super Cub and a volunteer in a Cessna 206 were looking for Griest and Adams on Saturday, as a ground search continued below, Ipsen said.

Note: Based on earlier information from troopers, a previous version of this story said incorrectly that Griest and Adams were last seen Tuesday.

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.