Jeff Christensen Search
On July 29th 2005 a park ranger for Rocky Mountain National Park did not return from his patrol. Search efforts begain immediately. I joined this search on August 5th, day 7 of the search. This was the largest search ever in the history of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Over 200 searchers, 5 helicopters, a spotter airplane, and 5 dog teams. The dedication of all of the volunteers was amazing. We literally gave our blood, sweat, and tears for this effort. I arrived at Beaver Meadows Welcome Center for the 6 a.m. debreif. Several people reported on the current status of the search and updated us on maps and any breaking information.
During this process, Jeff's parents had the chance to speak. They mainained excellent composure as they thanked everyone for their efforts and gave words of encourgement. After their heartfelt speach, the Incident Commander took over and began to assign duties to the volunteers.
I was assigned to a "spike" team. A team that had to be fully self sufficient for up to 72 hours in the field. We were assigned the Hague Valley for our search. I was the only one on this team not from Vail Mountain Rescue. I was excited to be joining such a capable team, though a bit worried I wasn't up to thier par.
They turned out to be a great group and I really enjoyed working with them. The Hague Valley turned out to be a pretty rugged area, but we did a good job of covering a lot of ground in a short time without cutting corners. In all we covered nearly 11 miles, not counting the many side trips we took to investigate specific areas. We all were carrying packs that weighed around 70 lbs.
Though in the end Jeff was found deceased, we were proud to have been a part of such a major effort. The investigation concluded that Jeff had fallen only hours after last being seen on Mount Chiquita, he suffered major head trauma due to the fall and expired soon after falling.
This is the group I joined for the search. Longs Peak is in the background.
This is the helicopter we rode to a place known as "The Saddle" where we began our search.
We did have to wait a bit before we went anywhere.
After suiting up for the helicoper.
The drop off point.
The valley we had to search was pretty rough terrain. This is looking at some of the milder terrain we searched.
As we continued up the valley the terrain got a lot rougher.
After spending two days clearing the Hague Valley, we reached the saddle that took us out and we rested for a little while.
After leaving the Hague Valley the search area became much easier, however about halfway through this area we were stood down from the search.
This is a 3D rendering of our search area. The red is the path my GPS followed.
On August 10th a memorial service was held for Jeff. The service ended with a final radio broadcast which went as follows:
"Ranger 233 - ROMO"
"Ranger 233 - ROMO"
"Ranger 233 - ROMO. Negative contact with ROMO. Ranger 233 out of service."
ROMO is the call sign for Rocky Mountain National Parks dispatch. Obviously Ranger 233 was Jeff's call sign.
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