Search for hiker called off till the snow melts on Cradle

The following is an edited version of an article in the Hobart Mercury. Very sad for this young man's family to have to return home without his body.

THE search for a Danish tourist who has been missing for 19 days on Cradle Mountain has been called off as his family return home and police hand the case over to the coroner.

Kasper Kataoka Sorensen, 21, began his solo climb of the mountain on July 4 and was last seen by fellow walkers on July 5. Bushwalkers first reported Mr Sorensen's abandoned backpack -- containing camping gear, a tent and his passport -- at the mountain's summit on July 10, but it was not retrieved by Parks and Wildlife staff until five days later when a police search for the missing man began.

After a solid week of land and air exploration, police have called off the search and referred the case to the coroner, doubting Mr Sorensen -- who they believe fell from the summit -- could have survived the elements for this long. Mr Sorensen's father and brother, who arrived in Tasmania on Friday, flew back to Denmark yesterday after expressing their "deepest gratitude" to everyone involved in the search. "It is with great sadness that we have been informed that, despite the great effort made by the search and rescue team, police and volunteers over the last seven days, they have been unable to locate Kasper on Cradle Mountain," the family said in a statement issued by the Danish consulate yesterday. "We are thankful for the generous support and kindness shown by all."

Cradle Mountain (at left) taken from the track up from Waterfall Valley
Search commander Insp Brian Edmonds said all available resources -- including the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, a sniffer dog, survival experts, foot patrols and vertical rope rescue teams who abseiled into crevasses -- had been used to cover the areas where Mr Sorensen was likely to have been. "An intensive search over the past seven days has unfortunately failed to locate Mr Sorensen," Insp Edmonds said yesterday. "Chances are that Mr Sorensen has walked to the cliff edge and slipped or fallen. "The drops range between five and 150 metres into gullies that contain snow and ice. "We will resume looking as soon as the conditions allow." But he said it might take weeks, or even months, for the snow to melt. Police and rangers will continue to monitor snow levels.

Mr Sorensen arrived in Tasmania on July 2 after telling friends in Queensland he intended to climb the mountain solo. The backpacker had climbed the peak with three friends earlier this year. His brother Kenny, 30, said his adventurous sibling loved a challenge and had been enjoying his "big trip to see the world" after finishing school. The State Government is investigating why the alarm was not raised earlier when the first sighting of Mr Sorensen's backpack was reported. Mr Sorensen's failure to register at the start of his walk has been blamed for making the search more difficult.

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