Long-Lost Skier’s Body Found After 38 Years

History Skiing Survival
Aerial operations search for missing skier Rudi Moder at RMNP in Feb. 1983 Photo RMNP
Aerial operations search for missing skier Rudi Moder in Feb. 1983. Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park Public Affairs

On February 13, 1983, 27-year-old ski mountaineer Rudi Moder disappeared during a two-to-three day solo trek in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Six days later, Moder’s roommate in Fort Collins, Colorado, reported him missing.

From February 20-23, ground and aerial crews as well as an avalanche search dog scoured RMNP’s northwestern perimeter. Except for a small food container and a handbuilt snow shelter housing Moder’s sleeping bag and nonessential gear, the recovery effort was a bust.

Follow-up ground and air operations continued the search in the spring and summer, but the German skier was never seen nor heard from again.

SAR ground teams search for missing skier Rudi Moder at RMNP in Feb. 1983; Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park Public Affairs

SAR ground teams search for missing skier Rudi Moder at RMNP in Feb. 1983; Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park Public Affairs

That is, until the dog days of 2020 when a hiker discovered desiccated human remains while passing through the park’s Skeleton Gulch, an area that was part of the original search swath 37 years before.

But conditions precluded an actual recovery of the skeletal leftovers when wildfires forced the area to close. By the time that the fires abated, snow was already falling, covering the high elevation area.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that park rangers and FBI officials could extract the remains. At Skeleton Gulch, they also uncovered ski mo equipment, apparel, and a few personal effects.

But it’s unclear if the story ends there. Comparisons of the subject’s teeth to Moder’s old dental records failed to yield conclusive results. Officials, however, seem satisfied that the remains are those of Moder.

“The discovery and recovery of Rudi Moder’s remains close out a nearly four-decade-long cold case,” the Park stated in a news release.

+2

About the Author

Jilli Cluff

Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college.
After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life.
She now works as a contributor, an editor, and a gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network.
She is based out of Austin, Texas where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
×