The situation was less than ideal when five rescuers and Tali, an avalanche search dog from the Summit County Rescue Group responded to Rocky Mountain National Park to join the search for a missing Texas man earlier this month.
Gusting winds of up to 40 mph were swirling, making it difficult for search dogs to pick up a scent, freezing temperatures restricted the range of the smell and the missing person was unfamiliar with the area, limiting starting points like favorite locations.
Then there was the added challenge that rescuers didn't know why Troy Green, 39, of San Antonio, had walked into the snow-covered wilderness in the first place.
"Nobody knew what the guy's plans were," said Summit County Rescue Group team leader and dog handler John Reller, who was part of the local search team. "He didn't have much equipment. He purchased just a little bit of gear, some clothing, but nobody knew where he was headed."
As it turned out, Green never planned to leave Rocky Mountain National Park. Rescue groups combed the area for several days before two people snowshoeing near Bear Lake discovered his body in a heavily wooded area, roughly 100 feet from a hiking trail.
The local rescue team had been searching on that same trail, but was unable to see the body.
"It was a needle in a haystack kind of situation," said Brent Love, a member of the Summit County Rescue Group team.
The National Park Service led the search, but local teams responded to help, bringing extra manpower and Tali, an avalanche search dog, to assist through a mutual aid program.
Local rescuers say teaming up with other agencies helps build partnerships across the state and allows teams to train in different types of terrain.
"It develops teamwork with other counties," Reller said. "Everybody has limited resources, so if we all help each other out, then we're all better off in the long run."
Local teams combed a rugged area above timberline near the Flattop Mountain Trail. Tali and local rescuers assisted in searching areas near several recent avalanches.
Green disappeared soon after arriving in Colorado for a conference. When he failed to contact his wife, she called the Denver Police Department.