DENVER (CBS4) – A search continued on Sunday for an Arvada man missing in the mountains of southern Colorado.
Search teams and Mark Stice’s mother are both fearing the worst.
Search crews found Mark Stice’s car on South Colony Road southwest of Westcliffe. Custer County authorities believe he hiked another 10 miles to Crestone Peak, a 14er where overnight temperatures dipped down to about 10 degrees this week. He’s also missing in an area of up to 50 square miles.
Mark Stice, 36, has been hiking since he was a Boy Scout, earning his badge for winter camping.
“It was Sunday night when he had already gone missing that it snowed, this is what has hindered the search,” Mark Stice’s mother Janice Stice said.
Janice Stice spent the past week gazing at the San Isabel National Forest west of Westcliffe.
“The terrain and everything … it’s mind boggling,” she said.
The snow hasn’t made the search any easier.
“It’s still pretty dicey out there as far as getting up into the real high country, but with snow and ice, yes,” Ray Varney with the Custer County Incident Command said.
Varney said teams of technical climbers have been searching three 14ers.
“There are places up there that a person can get in trouble and we may not be able to find them for a long time,” he said.
Mark Stice is a family man with two young daughters.
“How do you explain to a 3- and a 5-year-old where daddy is? It’s not an easy thing,” Janice Stice said. “We have to find him, even if it’s a worst case scenario … but Custer County Search and Rescue has assured us that they will search as long as they can until the snow gets too deep.”
At this point there is a cold reality for the Stice family and friends.
“With every day that passes optimism declines,” Janice Stice said. “Everyone is praying, just keep praying, keep praying.”
Mark’s mother says he may have been wearing a blue jacket and a dark blue backpack.
Custer County authorities have talked to several hikers hoping they saw Mark Stice, but so far no luck.