The first snowfall of the year is usually a beautiful and joyous celebration in the small ski town of Mammoth Lakes in California’s Eastern Sierra, but the early October snow was disheartening for the searchers of a missing Pennsylvania man. Hope was fading with the inevitable change in season, and those close to Matthew Greene were starting to understand the grave reality that he may never be found. From more than 2,500 miles away, his loved ones experienced a tug of war between despair and optimism, feeling helpless across the country as they went through the motions of their daily lives.
In early July 2013, the 39-year-old high school math teacher dropped his car off at a Mammoth auto shop for repairs. He was visiting the area for a summer climbing vacation when the car blew a head gasket. The friends Greene was traveling with headed home as scheduled, and Greene planned to drive to Colorado to join other friends for more climbing as soon as his car was ready.
“I may have to spend the rest of my life here in Mammoth,” he texted to a friend as he got more and more frustrated with how long the repair was taking. He was anxious to get on with his trip.
No one has heard from Greene since he last talked to his parents on July 16, 2013. He never picked his car up. His campsite was left tidy, and his credit cards and phone have not been used. He did not tell anyone his plans for the following day. The only clue—a few pages torn from a mountaineering guidebook, pointed toward the Minarets and Ritter Range, a rugged mountain massif in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. At the time, Mammoth Lakes was experiencing sunshine and above average temperatures. On July 29, 2013, Matthew Greene was reported missing, and his body has not been found in the three years since.
In 2013, more than 600,000 Americans were reported missing, according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. At the end of the year, nearly 85,000 of those cases were still active. Matthew Greene is the only unsolved missing person case in Mammoth Lakes, and in January 2014, Greene’s family filed for a death certificate in Pennsylvania, but the case is still open with the Mammoth Lakes Police Department.
“Most people assume that Matt was a victim of some sort of climbing accident—a fall of some sort,” says John Greco, Greene’s good friend and climbing partner that met him in California. “In reality, there are many other plausible explanations for his disappearance that no one is considering.”
This article was published in the July / August issue of Climbing Magazine. Read it online here.