Search To Continue for Overdue Backpackers
Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
Sunday’s aerial and ground search efforts turned up no new clues as to the location of missing backpackers Abby Flantz, 25, of Gaylord, Minnesota, and Erica Nelson, 23, from Las Vegas, Nevada. More than forty people were involved in today’s search activities, which included the use of three ground teams, each consisting of 3-4 people, two helicopters, and a fixed-wing aircraft. Information gleaned from the results of today’s search efforts is being used to determine tomorrow’s search priorities.
Two additional ground crews have been added for Monday’s search efforts, and the search area will expand to include terrain west of the Savage River. Reported high water levels in the Savage River last Thursday may have discouraged the two women from attempting to cross the Savage River, which they would have done to access the Mount Healy backcountry unit. The area being searched is just under 100 square miles, and consists of rugged, trailless, terrain ranging in elevation from approximately 2, 000 feet to 6,000 feet.
Flantz and Nelson were last seen on Thursday, June 12 at the Savage River Check Station. They had obtained their wilderness permit earlier that day, and their planned itinerary was to do a one night backpacking trip and return on Friday, June 13. The National Park Service was notified that they were overdue on Saturday, June 14 when they failed to report for work at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.
As part of the investigation supporting the search effort, National Park Service search managers would like to speak with anyone who was hiking in the Savage River drainage between Thursday, June 12 and Sunday, June 15. Anyone who may have information to share is asked to call (907) 683-9648.
Did You Know?
Warmer average temperatures over several decades have resulted in expansion of woody vegetation. If this warming trend continues, it will change Alaska's ecosystems and drastically alter the physical appearance of Denali's landscape, as treeline marches higher up the mountains.