NEW INFORMATION JUST IN OCTOBER 29 – SEE BELOW STORY FOR PRESS RELEASE FROM THE MT. CRESTED BUTTE POLICE DEPARTMENT
Hunters recover pack in Middle Anthracite Creek area
Items belonging to a hiker who went missing several months ago in the Oh Be Joyful/Daisy Pass area were delivered to the Mt. Crested Butte Police Department last week.
Sherri O. Ahlbrandt from Littleton, Colo. was reported missing on August 13 after separating from her hiking party. A multi-stage search operation was held during August and September. After no signs of the 54-year-old woman were found, police and search and rescue personnel were forced to scale back their search. At that time police asked hunters and backcountry travelers to keep an eye out for signs of Ahlbrandt.
According to Mt. Crested Butte Police Department spokesperson Marjorie Trautman, a hunting party contacted the department on October 18 after finding a pack they believed belonged to Ahlbrandt.
“They opened the pack and found items inside, specifically a cell phone and eyeglasses, that had [Ahlbrandt’s] name taped to them,” said Trautman. “We wanted to see it.”
A member of the hunting party delivered the small waist-pack to the police department on October 23. Along with the glasses and phone it contained a small amount of survival gear and a hairbrush.
“We’re still working with the hunting party to confirm exactly where the pack was located,” said Trautman, noting that the delay between when the hunters first alerted the police to the pack and when the pack was delivered was in part due to the rugged terrain and remote location of the area in which the pack was found. “To the best of our knowledge the hunters were in the Anthracite Creek area, perhaps Middle Anthracite Creek.”
When the pack was delivered to the police it was dirty but not wet, and Trautman said the hunters found it along the banks of the creek. Police could not determine if the pack had been in the creek at some point.
“One of the hunters is more than willing to take us back into the spot where they found the pack. From Erickson Springs it’s likely about a four-hour horseback ride,” said Trautman. “We expect that we’ll have a team into the area soon. We are working with Ric Ems from search and rescue to coordinate plans, but we are facing challenges associated with it being a wilderness area. The walls along the creek are extremely steep, and the terrain rugged and treacherous, with thick vegetation. We’re working to put together the right teams, with the right equipment to keep everyone safe and protected.”
According to a Wednesday, October 29 update from Trautman, a team entered the Middle Anthracite Creek area Wednesday morning in an attempt to locate Ahlbrandt. The search team consisted of 10 members, four with Crested Butte Search & Rescue and six with Western State Colorado University Search & Rescue. The team was attempting to access the target area on foot via Erickson Springs near County Road 12 in the Gunnison National Forest.
The intention was for the team to walk in Wednesday and search while daylight allowed, camp the night, search again Thursday and walk out before dark. The access via Erickson Springs requires approximately a 2,000-foot vertical gain over five miles, but is likely the quickest route to the target area.
The last contact from Ahlbrandt came in the form of a cell phone ping off the Route 92 tower near Hotchkiss, and though it’s relatively far from Daisy Pass, the Middle Anthracite Creek area where Ahlbrandt’s pack was found is consistent with that ping.
“She covered some serious terrain,” said Trautman.
While Trautman maintains that the police and search crews will continue to hope for the best, the time for rescue has largely passed.
“Our objective would be to get some answers—whether that’s more information or closure for the family.”
Anyone with information thought to be related to Ahlbrandt’s disappearance is asked to contact the Mt. Crested Butte Police Department.
NEW 10/29: Search & Rescue Recovery Operation from the Mt. Crested Butte Police Department.
On Wednesday, October 29, 2014 a Search and recovery operation was launched in the Gunnison National forest. Ten searchers, consisting of Crested Butte Search & Rescue and Western State Colorado University Search & Rescue members departed from the Erickson Springs Trailhead near County Road 12 in Gunnison County. This effort was prompted by the discovery of a small waist pack containing personal items belonging to missing hiker Sherri O. Ahlbrandt of Littleton, Colorado who was reported missing August 13, 2014. The pack was delivered to the Mt. Crested Butte Police Department by a hunter on October 23, 2014.
At approximately 12:45 on October 29, 2014 the search team located human remains in the area of Middle Anthracite creek in an approximate location to where the waist pack was found. This discovery, relative to the location of the waist pack, would indicate the remains may be those of Ms. Ahlbrandt. However, this information is not yet confirmed as the search team is still in the field.
The search team has been authorized to bring the remains from the field on the authority of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Gunnison Sheriff’s Office, Gunnison County Coroner and the Mt. Crested Butte Police. The remains will be turned over to the County Coroner for further investigation and identification purposes.
Additional information will be released when available.