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Body of missing hiker recovered - Hagadone Corporation: Hungryhorsenews

Body of missing hiker recovered

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Posted: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 9:34 am

Five days after the search began, the body of a missing seasonal employee at Glacier National Park was located about 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, on the north side of Peak 8888, in the south end of the Park.

The search for Jacob "Jake" Rigby, 27, began Monday, Aug. 29, after he failed to return from a day hike on Sunday. The search focused on the southern part of the Park after Rigby's vehicle was found at the Fielding Trailhead along U.S. 2 at mile marker 192.

A weather front brought lower temperatures and rain and snow to the mountains on Wednesday, but 17 people remained overnight in the search area through inclement weather. The terrain is extremely steep and treacherous and typically only sees skilled hikers and climbers. Personnel from the Flathead National Forest and Flathead Valley Search and Rescue joined Park rangers in the search.

Park rangers believe Rigby may have signed the summit register on top of 8,446-foot high Brave Dog Mountain on Sunday. After this discovery, searchers concentrated on the climbers route from Brave Dog to 8,852-foot high Mount Despair, between the Ole Creek and Park Creek drainages.

Peak 8888, officially an unnamed peak, lies between Brave Dog and Despair. Helicopter personnel spotted Rigby's body on the north side. Initial reports suggested Rigby had fallen about 800 feet. The next morning, a helicopter from Waterton Lakes National Park carrying Canadian park wardens assisted in recovering Rigby's body.

"It was an extremely challenging incident because of the steep and treacherous location," incident commander Mark Foust said. "We are fortunate to have skilled pilots and crews with Minuteman Aviation, U.S. Forest Service and Parks Canada."

Rigby, a 2002 graduate of Johnsburg High School, in Illinois, had a geology degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He worked on the exotic plant program in Glacier Park, and was reportedly an avid and skilled hiker and familiar with the Park.

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