Another missing man mystery in the mountains

Authorities call off daunting Holy Cross search and rescue

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenOctober 12, 2010
Another search and rescue has been called off after a man has gone missing.

James Nelson



“With heavy hearts,” authorities in Eagle County will call off their search for missing Chicago hiker James Nelson late Tuesday night, Real Vail is reporting. Nelson, a 31-year-old church administrator, embarked on a solo journey around and up the 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross on Oct. 3.

He hasn't been seen or heard from since.

Nelson had reportedly planned to hike a circuitous 25-mile route in five days. His fiance reported him missing Friday night. He was well equipped, officials say, although he didn't bring a cell phone.

When Vail Mountain Rescue Group went to search for him on Saturday, a cold front moved through the area dropping a few inches of fresh snow fell at higher elevations over the weekend. An Eagle County sheriff's spokeswoman said Nelson’s name was not signed on the Holy Cross summit register.

The spokeswoman added that searchers checked all of the trails on Nelson’s proposed route, including “some areas that are kind of hairy,” as the route Nelson planned wasn't easily passable in some areas.

Mount of the Holy Cross
Dan Davis
Trekker Photo

Now it looks like Nelson will join Carbondale resident William Worley in the local missing persons books. Worley was reported missing July 30 and a search began Aug. 4 after his car turned up at the East Creek trailhead the night before. Rescuers canvassed a huge area, checking East Creek, Gift Creek, Avalanche Creek, Kline Creek, Lilly Lake, Hawk Peak and other challenging terrain on foot, by plane and by helicopter. Search dogs aided in the effort.

William Worley

After four days the search was called off. Then, a couple of weeks later, authorities surprisingly resumed their search for Worley, combing a stretch of the Crystal River, as well as mudslide hazard zones and other areas of interest. He never turned up.

Photographs of both men have been disseminated and they are registered in missing person databases.


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