Sheriff's officers say it will probably be early summer before they will be able to conduct another extensive search for a doctor believed to have died while hiking in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Jake Gradwohl, 28, a resident physician at the University of Utah Medical Center, apparently went for a day hike on Oct. 14 and has not been seen since. Salt Lake County sheriff's search and rescue volunteers, technical climbers from Colorado and Idaho, Civil Air Patrol planes and search dogs spent a week scouring the mountains but found no sign of him.Gradwohl's car was found near the Broads Fork and Mill B trail heads.
"He's officially listed as a missing person," said Sheriff's Capt. Mike Wilkinson. Detectives are currently looking into the possibility that he may not have gone hiking at all and are looking into other angles as well. But they believe those to be much less likely.
"We're thinking he's probably up high, buried (in the snow). There's nothing to indicate anything different," Wilkinson said.
Although they originally believed he was just a trail hiker, the captain said Gradwohl had a photo album that indicated he liked to hike to the tops of the mountains and take pictures.
"We're 80 percent convinced he's not in the lower area. That's about as convinced as you can get."
A search party with dogs went into the area a week ago to investigate a report from a deer hunter who said he thought he saw someone trying to bury something. But Wilkinson said that did not pan out.
"Any kind of lead we get, we're checking out," he said. But because of snow, the high country is unstable and the probability of finding his body soon is very slim.
Wilkinson said the body of a hunter who was lost in the same general area was not found for 27 years.