Image: Makana and Michael Von Gortler
Courtesy Paul Kasemir
Makana, 20, and Michael Von Gortler, 53. Father-daughter pair have been missing in Colorado mountains for more than a week.
NBC News and news services
updated 7/2/2011 6:49:52 PM ET 2011-07-02T22:49:52

Two bodies found on a 14,000-foot Colorado mountain appear to be those of a father and daughter who went missing last week while hiking, authorities said Saturday.

Their identities have not been confirmed, but Chaffee County Sheriff Pete Palmer told NBC station KUSA of Denver that authorities believe "with high confidence" that the bodies are those of Dr. Michael von Gortler of Boulder and his daughter Makana von Gortler, 20.   

The bodies were found Saturday at about 12,000 feet, one mile from the summit of Missouri Mountain, on the northeast side, Under Sheriff John Spezze told KUSA. Palmer told the Boulder Daily Camera that the bodies were about 500 feet above the main trail.

Rescue crews deployed a helicopter to recover the bodies from a steep, grassy area, Spezze said.

An autopsy was scheduled for Sunday to determine how they died.

Missouri Mountain is in the San Isabel National Forest near Buena Vista, Colo. At 14,073 feet high, the peak is one of 53 mountains in the state over 14,000 feet. A trail leads to the top but von Gortler was known to like to travel off-trail in the mountains.

The last time von Gortler and his daughter were heard from was when Makana von Gortler texted her boyfriend on June 21 to say they were going for a day hike up Missouri Mountain. The pair were due to return home June 23.

Authorities started looking for  in the Colorado backcountry on June 28, KUSA-TV reported.

Searchers had covered at least 800 square miles trying to find the pair.

Authorities examined their truck mileage and credit card records and found nothing suspicious.

Family and friends described Michael von Gortler, an emergency room doctor, as an experienced hiker who liked to travel off the beaten path.

Story: Sheriff says no sign of missing Colorado hikers

He wrote several articles for niche publications and in one included some personal background.

"Mike von Gortler is a middle-aged but active guy," he wrote for in 2006. "The pursuit of wild chanterelles and other edible mountain plants keeps him moving through the uplands while keeping an eye out for the wildlife and wildflowers. Several times a year he can be found atop a Fourteener with his teenage daughter or some friends."

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