Intensive Search for Trail of Overdue Hiker Continues in Glacier National Park
Contact: Norma Sosa, 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – An exhaustive search of remote areas in Glacier National Park through which an overdue hiker is thought to have passed continued today.
About 50 searchers set out shortly after daybreak to continue to look for clues that might point to the path taken by Yi-Jien Hwa, a 27-year-old Malaysian man who planned to hike in Glacier National Park’s backcountry from August 11th to August 18th. His family told the Park that he had contacted them before setting out on his planned hike. He has not been heard from since then.
Chas Cartwright, Superintendent of Glacier National Park, singled out the men and women who have stepped up to continue the difficult search. He also thanked the agencies that have helped the National Park Service to mount the operation.
"It is truly amazing how many people have come together for this search and rescue effort, including numerous volunteers as well as participation from county, tribal, and federal government personnel,” he said today. “We appreciate their assistance in trying to locate Mr. Hwa. Notably, the team is getting the job done safely, which is critically important in the challenging mountainous terrain."
The search and rescue operation’s Incident Commander, Patrick Suddath, described the ground covered yesterday as “remarkable” and said that the searchers’ reports had been invaluable in identifying sites to explore today. But he said no new information had emerged from the areas that have been searched that could be used to locate Mr. Hwa or to determine his condition.
Teams of hikers and mountaineers were expected to continue investigating the diverse features of the landscape in the Floral Park area of central Glacier National Park today. Hikers planned to walk through mountain passes, wooded areas, and shaded, icy terrain where snow has fallen in recent weeks. Climbers are inspecting glaciers, melt ponds, and crevasses created by ice and hard-packed snow at higher elevations.
Most of the teams are being flown out of the backcountry by helicopter before nightfall, but one crew is remaining overnight to continue searching in more remote areas where extraction by air is not possible.
Two helicopters are being used in today’s operations, including one loaned to the effort by the US Border Patrol.
The National Park Service continues to receive planning assistance and other contributions in the search effort from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department, US Border Patrol, and US Forest Service. The Blackfeet Tribe, Glacier County Sheriff’s Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are helping to investigate leads as they emerge.
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Did You Know?
Grizzly bears in the park have a wide variety of food sources, including glacier lily bulbs, insects, and berries. They may also make an early season meal of mountain goats that were swept down in avalanches over the winter.