Atlanta man disappears in the Rockies

An Atlanta man who was frustrated with his work at a computer company abruptly quit his job in October, drove to a rugged range at the southern tail of the Rocky Mountains and set out alone on foot.

Abisha "Abe" Mounce hasn't been heard from since.

Authorities in Colorado had been monitoring his wife's Jeep at a trailhead of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains since they first saw it parked there on Oct. 26. They finally discovered Tuesday that she had told the Atlanta Police Department in mid-November that he'd gone missing with her Jeep.

Now, five weeks after Mounce started hiking, the National Guard and local police are confronting high winds, avalanches and sub-zero temperatures in a frantic effort to find him.

"In the winter, it's definitely not the place you want to be," said Mark Werts, an investigator with the Saguache County Sheriff's Office.

Mounce lives in an apartment on Ponce de Leon Avenue in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood and worked remotely for California-based McAfee, the computer virus-fighting company.

His wife, Xzianua Tong, told police on Nov. 14 that her husband had left Atlanta with her 2007 Jeep on Oct. 20 and that he'd sent her an e-mail the next day saying he was going hiking for a couple of weeks. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

An avid outdoorsman, Mounce often disappeared for weeks at a time to be alone in the wilderness when he needed to sort things out, so this trip wasn't out of character for him, Werts said.

"I think he was unhappy with the line of work he was in," Werts said.

Mounce apparently was traveling lightly. He stopped at an REI store on his way and bought thermal underwear and a hat before setting off on a trial that climbed to 13,000 feet. His 38th birthday passed while he was out there.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are not to be trifled with. A couple of hikers die there each year from falls, avalanches and other mishaps. There is no cell phone service, and the hikers who could help someone in distress are few and far between. There are also mountain lions, bears and, at this time of year, temperatures in the minus-15-degree range.

Rescuers had to give up Wednesday when the snow-laden winds kicked up to 40 mph. They plan to head out again Thursday with trail-sniffing dogs, Werts said.

In the meantime, the Saguache County Sheriff's Office is looking for any information it can get from people who know Mounce.

Investigators would like to know the route he took from Atlanta, why he chose the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, what his plans were and any reasons he gave for leaving Atlanta. They're hoping someone may have had a conversation with Mounce just before or just after he left home.

Anyone with information can reach Werts in Colorado at 719-655-2525.

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