Most people have forgotten the story of Michelle Vanek, who disappeared while climbing Holy Cross last year at this time.
But on 14ers.com an active discussion thread is still mulling over many possibilities, including murder and deciept.
No trace of her was ever found. No backpack, no scrap of clothing, nothing.
Here are some of the details, posted on 14ers.com by a member:
1. Her party, led by an experienced hiker, started hiking the Halo Ridge trail thinking they were on the standard trail. This was a big blunder. It is clearly stated that you take the Half Moon trail for the standard route and the Fall Creek trail for the Halo ridge route. The Halo Ridge route is 3 miles longer and is much less travelled. Seems like a big mistake to take the wrong trailhead.
2. He states he forgot his water purifier and a sandwich and discovered this later during the hike. I am not sure what good the water purifier was going to do him on this hike anyway. Was he planning on heading down to the Bowl of Tears to fill up? They both had no water left well before the summit. That was another big blunder.
3. Was she told to stay put or traverse to the standard trail? From what I read, she was too tired to summit. So, she is sitting at the base of the last part of the hike to the summit on the Halo Ridge side. I read that he told her to stay put, he would summit, and then be right back down to meet her and then they would descend. Other stories I read said he told her to traverse the base and meet up with the standard trail and he would meet her there as he came down from the summit. He said that would save them 45 minutes. If she was that tired, it seems strange he would tell her to traverse to the standard trail alone.
So, here are my questions: It seems highly unlikely to me that a mountain lion or bear snatched her. If so, they would have found something. It just seems so bizarre that 400 or so seachers could find no trace of her.
I know things can happen up there and that Holy Cross has more than its share of missing hikers each year but... this case just has me wondering what happened.
So, what do others think? Read it here.