UPDATE: JULY 20 AT 2:25 P.M.
UPDATE: JULY 10 AT 5:38 P.M.
Red Lodge Fire Rescue reports rescuers believe lost hiker, Tatum Morell, did not survive.
Rescuers have been searching for nearly a week for Tatum in the mountains near Red Lodge, and now believe it is unlikely she is still alive.
“It is believed that Tatum had a tragic accident and was unable to activate her inReach device,” the update said.
Since July 5, rescuers have been searching the rugged mountains that rise above 12,000 feet, the search area containing countless rock fields, car-sized boulders, scree fields and snowfields.
Mountain rescue teams, search dog teams, and ground search teams have put hundreds of rescue hours into searching the area, including searching all possible routes, mountain peaks, ridges, as well as the area around her tent according to Red Lodge Fire.
Efforts to find Tatum also included multiple aerial searches by Red Lodge Fire Rescue, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s office, Two Bear Air, the Army National Guard, and Gallatin County SAR.
Multiple high-resolution visual and infrared cameras, cellphone tracking and Recco technologies were used as well.
The update says searching the area requires technical experience and advanced backcountry knowledge, and due to the size of the search area and the difficulty of the terrain, the search is extremely dangerous to rescuers.
“Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of places that Tate could have gotten into trouble on these rugged mountains when the storms came into the area on Friday”, said Incident commander Tom Kuntz. “After the extensive search efforts, we do not believe she survived”
“Tate was a fiercely independent, adventurous soul who loved the mountains. We find some solace in knowing she passed in a place she loved,” Tatum’s family added.
Search efforts will continue, however, on a limited but continuous basis for the foreseeable future the update says.
The following is from Red Lodge Fire Rescue’s update Saturday:
Tatum’s family, the Carbon County Sheriff's office, and Red Lodge Fire Rescue appreciate all of the efforts of the supporting agencies and organizations: Yellowstone County Sheriff, Gallatin County SAR, Park County WY SAR, Big Horn County SAR, , the US Forest Service, the Army National Guard, Montana FWP, Palisades Ranches, Jackson Hole Search Dogs, Absaroka Search Dogs, Western Montana Search Dogs, Coconino County Sheriff's Office, Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, MSU Police, Garmin InReach, Gaia GPS, the many people who volunteered time to search and support the effort and the many people who have offered their assistance. The family asks that people who wish to help in search efforts or commemorate Tatum’s life please make donations in her honor to Red Lodge Fire Rescue at redlodgefire.com.
UPDATE: JULY 9 AT 11:05 A.M.
The search area for lost hiker, Tatum Morell, has been expanded as search teams have yet to find any signs of the 23-year-old.
Rescuers have expanded the search area to include areas adjacent ot the original 15 square mile area in case she became disoriented or had to retreat from the high altitude routes due to weather an update from Red Lodge Fire said.
A National Guard helicopter will join the search Friday night in order to provide high-resolution images of the area for more detailed analysis by rescuers. The images will be used to help direct ground searchers.
“Rescue crews have been extensively utilizing helicopters, mountain rescue teams, dog teams, and ground search teams in an attempt to locate the missing 23-year-old hiker,” the update said.
CARBON COUNTY, Mont. - Search crews say 23-year-old Tatum Morell has been missing since Friday, July 2. Crews are beginning their fourth day of searching for her. As of 10 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7, Carbon County Sheriff Josh McQuillan says they haven't found her yet. Professional rescuers, dog teams and helicopters are being used to look for her.
"This is a very complicated search in a highly technical area of the Beartooth Absaroka wilderness area," Red Lodge Fire Rescue Chief Tom Kuntz said. "This young woman was trying to climb five peaks over 12,000 feet. So, obviously, that's no short task. So, our search area, in fact includes six 12,000 foot peaks that are right in the area there."
Morell is an experienced hiker who set up her tent in the Shadow Lake area.
Search crews are looking in a 15 square mile area. And, Kuntz said they may extend the search area.
The search area includes elevations starting at 9500 feet all the way up to 12,000 feet. Due to the challenging terrain, they are only using professional rescuers.
He said they are very grateful for help from multiple counties in Montana and Wyoming. Thirty-five people, 3 dog teams and three helicopters have been helping in the search.
One of those dog teams includes Heather Walker and Search Dog Storm. Walker said:
"When somebody's hurt or missing, that's what we do. We spend two days a week training the dogs, so that they can go find people if they are lost or injured."