Search called off for Ketchikan hiker

The search for a 22-year-old hiker who was last spotted Wednesday trying to climb down a mountain has been called off, according to Alaska State Troopers

Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said Monday that even though the search for Justin Nathan is over, a missing persons case will remain open until “he is accounted for dead or alive.” Teams continued searching for Nathan through the weekend.

Troopers said Nathan summited Deer Mountain — a 3,000-foot mountain about a 30-minute walk from downtown Ketchikan — with a 17-year-old friend Wednesday. He was having difficulty with the steep descent, and the friend left to go get help. The friend said Nathan had been drinking during the hike and was intoxicated when they tried to make the descent.

Nathan was last seen wearing jeans and a hoodie. He might have also had a rain jacket shell, Troopers said in a previous Empire report.

Deer Mountain is a popular trail that’s about three-and-a-half miles long and begins at about 500 feet in elevation. It has steep switchbacks and “even steeper areas and cliffs,” Peters said.

The search for Nathan marks the fourth search and rescue effort in Southeast Alaska in a week’s span.

Peters recommended hikers and hunters take emergency overnight gear with them to keep them safe from the elements, as well as a fully-charged cell phone or emergency communication device, should they become lost or stranded.

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