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Experienced Idaho hiker, 23, missing in Montana mountains

Tatum Morell, a graduate student at Montana State University, was attempting to climb five peaks in five days.
Credit: Red Lodge Fire
Tatum "Tate" Morell

CARBON COUNTY, Mont. — A 23-year-old woman from Idaho is the subject of an intense search after she failed to return from a hiking and climbing trip in Montana's Beartooth Mountains. 

Tatum "Tate" Morell headed into the backcountry on July 1, with a plan to spend four nights in the area. Morell, an experienced outdoorswoman, had told people she was planning to climb five peaks over 12,000 feet on the solo trip. 

According to Red Lodge Fire Search and Rescue, Morell is believed to have left her camp at Shadow Lake Friday morning and set out to ascend one of the peaks, but did not return to her campsite. Her last communication was made to her mother in Ketchum via a satellite communicator on Thursday night. 

The Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Red Lodge Fire Rescue Search and Rescue, the Yellowstone County Sheriff, Gallatin County Search and Rescue, Big Horn County Search and Rescue, Park County Wyoming Search and Rescue, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Guard are currently involved in the search, along with three search dog teams and three helicopters. 

The terrain is very rugged and technical, slowing ground crews. Searchers are currently focusing on Sundance, Bowback, Castle and Whitetail Mountains, which feature "car-sized boulders, scree and snowfields," according to Red Lodge Fire. Helicopter crews have been flying over the region since Sunday night, using visual, infrared cameras, cell phone tracking and Recco tracking in an attempt to locate Morell. 

Morell, an Idaho native, is an engineering graduate student at Montana State University in Bozeman. Authorities say the expedition was her first trip into the Beartooth Mountains, but that she is an avid hiker with experience in similar terrain, and had previously successfully completed a similar trip in Gallatin County during which she climbed five peaks in five days.

The missing climber has brown hair and brown eyes, and may have been wearing a red jacket and carrying a blue day pack. 

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is urged to call the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office at 406-446-1234.

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