Mount Whitney
Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the continental US at 14,494 feet, stands in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which carry less snow than normal, on May 9, 2008 near Lone Pine, California. Matthew Kraft has been missing for ten days in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. David McNew/Getty Images

A multi-agency search continues for a U.S. Marine who has been reported missing in California's Sierra Nevada mountains after his empty car was found late Friday.

Matthew Kraft, a first lieutenant based out of Camp Pendleton, was planning to hike the Kearsarge Pass trail on Feb. 24 for a 10-day backcountry ski trip in the California mountain range, but alarms were raised when he failed to reach his destination point on March 4 at Bridgeport, California, and the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center nearby.

Kraft left for the hike alone and planned for the trip to be a solitary venture.

After Kraft's father was not contacted by his son on his expected date of arrival, his father reached out to the Mono County Sheriff's Office, who quickly organized a search for the missing Marine on the same day.

Kraft's fellow military men at Camp Pendleton posted about Kraft's disappearance on the page for the 1st Marine Division on Friday, which Kraft serves as a member of, thanking those who had expressed well wishes, and provided information on the search.

Among the agencies aiding in the search for Kraft are the California Highway Patrol, the California Office of Emergency Services, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings National Park, Madera County Sheriff’s Office and the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center.

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, the Mono County Sheriff’s Office and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office are also participating in the search for the Marine.

According to a press release Saturday by the county sheriff, search and rescue teams have utilized and deployed an all-terrain vehicle equipped for wintery climes known as a snowcat "to rope-tow search and rescue team members on skis up to the Onion Valley parking area" near where Kraft's empty vehicle was found on Friday.

Responders are hoping to reach Kraft before the onset of a winter storm in the area. Authorities on Sunday said they found avalanche debris.

“We’re optimistic he has all the tools he needs to survive,” said Paul Gainey, a captain in the 1st Marines Division, about the chances that Kraft is still alive and surviving in the California wilderness.

“Anytime a Marine takes liberty we make sure he has a plan. He communicated his itinerary and the gear he had. He also gave us information on his drop-off and pick-up point,” Gainey added.

While there are no evident statistics on how many people go missing in the Sierra Nevadas, which span across a number of California national parks, including Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the last person to have been reported missing on the Kearsarge Pass trail was Stephen McGuire, a 67-year-old Washington state resident who was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in May 2018 when he disappeared.

McGuire was found on May 29 in good health, five days after he had gone missing.