Afton, Minn., native goes missing at Grand Teton National ParkAn Afton native and 1998 Stillwater Area High School graduate is missing after a hiking trip turned ugly at the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
By: Amber Kispert, South Washington County Bulletin
An Afton native and 1998 Stillwater Area High School graduate is missing after a hiking trip turned ugly at the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
A search by the National Park Service has been under way since Sunday for Gregory Seftick, 31, after he and another man went missing.
Seftick’s parents, Afton residents Susan and Daniel, were at Grand Teton National Park on Thursday.
According to Jackie Skaggs, public affairs officer for Grand Teton National Park, Seftick and Walker Pannell-Kuhl, 27, of Salt Lake City, set off on a ski trip Saturday afternoon at about 1 p.m.
Seftick and Pannell-Kuhl skied into Garnet Canyon where they intended to camp one night.
The search began Monday when neither man appeared for work Monday.
Skaggs said the last sighting for the two men was about 3 p.m. Saturday when another group came across them.
“We really didn’t know where they went, where they ended up,” she said. “As you can imagine it’s a fairly rugged, vast country with pinnacles and peaks and boulders.”
Skaggs said a helicopter, search parties and a teams of dogs have been enlisted in the hunt for the men.
“We are trying to do a really methodical and careful search,” she said.
Skaggs said it is rare for mountaineers to go missing for this long of a time.
“We have accidents, but this is rare for us to not have any clues as to their whereabouts,” she said.
Heavy snowfall and winds prevented the teams from performing the search Thursday.
“We have a winter storm going on now,” Skaggs said. “There’s no visibility.”
Skaggs said the search teams have thoroughly searched the upper regions of the canyon, narrowing the scenarios the men could face.
“They are not anywhere in the upper locations, so they are probably underneath a significant avalanche,” Skaggs said.
Grand Teton National Park is prone to avalanches.
Skaggs said it is unlikely that Seftick and Pannell-Kuhl have survived if they have been trapped under an avalanche.
“It’s been four additional nights unexpectedly in the back country and we haven’t been able to find any sign of them,” she said. “The realization that they may not have survived is starting to set in.
“There are miracles, but there’s a point where you realize the odds of them being alive may not be great.”
Visit http://www.gtnpnews.blogspot.com/ for updates on the National Parks Service’s search.