ESTES PARK, Colo. – A hiker found the body of a missing Rocky Mountain National Park (search) ranger Saturday, eight days after the ranger apparently fell during a routine patrol, park officials said.
No further information on where Jeff Christensen was found or how long he might have been dead were immediately released.
More than 200 searchers, some in helicopters and others with rescue dogs, had been looking for Christensen, 31, in the vast and rugged Mummy Range (search) for the past week.
He had told co-workers on July 29 that he was planning a routine backcountry patrol to the Lawn Lake trailhead, and visitors told park officials they saw Christensen that afternoon near the summit of Mount Chiquita (search). But when Christensen didn't show up for work the next day, search teams were sent out to find him.
The area he had been patrolling covers 26 square miles and has few designated trails. It's peaks top 13,000 feet, and overnight temperatures dip into the 40s.
On Saturday, when the hiker discovered Christensen's body, searchers were focusing on an area where rangers and park visitors on Wednesday heard gunshots and radio clicks that might have come from the missing ranger.
Christensen had been a ranger for four seasons and was an experienced mountaineer who also worked as a ski patroller at the nearby Winter Park resort. Park officials said he was carrying a radio and a backpack equipped with various gear, though he hadn't planned to spend the night in the backcountry when he left.
His parents, Dale and Chris Christensen of Forest Lake, Minn., have been in Colorado since Tuesday waiting for word on their son.