Climber missing on Missouri Mountain in Collegiate Peaks; search to resume Tuesday
Sheui Pako, 36, of Silverthorne left Saturday to climb mountain near Buena Vista
A Summit County man hiking one of the state’s 14,000-foot mountains in Chaffee County was reported missing early Sunday morning when he failed to make it home the day before.
Shuei Kato, 36, of Silverthorne, summited Missouri Mountain in the Collegiate Peaks near the town of Buena Vista by himself at about noon Saturday, according to his wife, Valerie, who reported him missing, and he was expected back later that afternoon. Kato called the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office at about 2 a.m. after her husband ultimately didn’t return.
A search started Sunday but was postponed Monday because of the winter storm that came in. Officials are planning to resume the search Tuesday.
After Valerie Kato called the Sheriff’s Office, deputies immediately responded to the Missouri Gulch trailhead of the 14,067-foot peak in the popular Sawatch Range and discovered Kato’s car. That set off an extensive air and ground search at first light on Sunday morning that included three search and rescue groups totaling more than 45 ground crew, and three helicopters between Flight For Life and the Air National Guard High Altitude Training Center based in Eagle County. Five members of the Summit County Rescue Group as well as the Flight For Life team from St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco were involved in the Sunday operation that went late into the evening.
The search effort was suspended at nightfall Sunday and not resumed Monday based on the Chaffee County north rescue group’s call because of inclement weather and concerns over avalanche risk on the onerous terrain. The sheriff’s office is requesting that civilian volunteers not respond to the peak to help with the search due to significant danger from the current low-visibility conditions.
The wintry conditions are expected to clear by Monday night, and Spezze anticipates restarting the search with a full set of resources early Tuesday morning.
“We do not need volunteers up here,” said Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze. “We’re using trained professionals for this thing. I understand the family’s concern. And we’re getting into that period where timing is certainly an issue, but safety has to be paramount, too.”
With his wife, Kato is the owner of Retro Games Japan, a mostly mail-order-based specialty import video game shop located off Warren Avenue in Silverthorne above the ReSaddled Thrift Store. The business’s website says that he grew up in Japan and his personal Facebook page states he attended college at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Along with Mounts Belford and Oxford, Missouri Mountain is one of three so-called “14ers” accessible via the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Missouri is considered a Class 2 to borderline Class 3 (out of 5) climbing difficulty, requiring no specific rock scrambling or technical abilities to complete the 10.5-mile hike. Spezze said he did not believe the weather Saturday to be a factor.
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