ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Getting lost in an avalanche is a grim reality that Eli Michel, 34, of Columbia City, Indiana, and Nafiun Awal, 32, of Seattle faced late last week.

Authorities said a search and rescue effort started for the two men on Sunday after no one heard from them for two days.

It is believed they triggered a small avalanche that likely caused their disappearance.

As of now, their status is unknown, they have not been found, and the search effort to find them will soon reduce its efforts.

“Given the realities after today, we’ll probably likely scale back the search, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop,” said Peter Christian, director of public affairs for the Alaskan region of the public parks service.

Initially, the search did yield some evidence of the climbers.

“We found some clues, there were tents, ice axes, a helmet and other pieces of personal items below where we expected the climbers may have fallen, and some boot pack tracks going into an avalanche debris area,” Christian said. “The last they were heard of is Friday when they checked in with a friend, and they weren’t heard from again.”

However, nothing has been found since then, and surviving the elements grows increasingly unlikely with each day that passes.

While warming conditions and melting snow may help find other clues, finding the climbers dead or alive isn’t a guarantee.

“Of the 178 climbers that have lost their lives in Denali National Park and in the mountains surrounding it, there are 65 whose bodies who have never been recovered,” Christian said. “Often this is because they’re never found, but sometimes we do find them but the kind of terrain is just so dangerous that we can’t recover them at all.”

Despite the overwhelming odds and waning search effort, there is still some hope that the climbers may be out there yet.

“It is a grim statistic, [but] we do still have hope that we can find them,” Christian said.